Russia closes offices of Amnesty International and HRW – JURIST

Russia’s Justice Ministry on Friday canceled the registration of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and 13 other international organizations citing “the discovery of violations of the current legislation of the Russian Federation.

The Ministry announced its decision to deregister the Moscow offices of organizations such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of register of representative offices of international organizations and foreign NGOs. The ministry’s statement does not provide any details regarding the alleged violations of Russian laws.

The delisting follows the UN General Assembly’s resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council for violating human rights in Ukraine. HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said: “Human Rights Watch has worked on and in Russia since Soviet times, and we will continue to do so. . . [T]its new iron curtain will not stop our continued efforts to defend the rights of all Russians and protect civilians in Ukraine.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard, underlined the organization’s commitment to speaking truth to power:

In a country where dozens of activists and dissidents have been imprisoned, killed or exiled, where independent media have been defamed, blocked or forced into self-censorship, and where civil society organizations have been banned or liquidated, you have to do something right if the Kremlin tries to silence you. . . [W]We will redouble our efforts to expose Russia’s gross human rights abuses, both at home and abroad.

Russia was targeting civil society even before its attack on Ukraine. The country’s Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal by Memorial International, a organization which highlights the plight of the victims of the Soviet regime, against a decision forcing it to be liquidated under the controversial Russian law on “foreign agents”. Last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) intervened in the case, ordering Russia not to enforce the disputed ruling, but the High Court later said the injunction the European Court of Human Rights was invalid.

On March 4, President Putin also signed amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to stifle civil society, activists, lawyers and journalists and suppress criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The law has been called a “total information blackout” by UN experts. the federal law introduces criminal liability for public dissemination of information deliberately misleading and discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

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