Amnesty International criticized Yarovaya's package

Amnesty International criticized Yarovaya's package
Irina Yarovaya Photo: RIA Novosti. Sergey Guneev

In its annual report, the international non-governmental organization Amnesty International has criticized the Russian package of anti-terrorism laws, describing them as contrary to Russia's international obligations in the field of human rights.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organization, founded in the UK in 1961. According to its website, its mission is to "conduct studies and take measures to prevent and eradicate gross violations of human rights."

At the same time, Amnesty International has always stressed that it is an independent organization based on complete self-financing through donations. However, there is a loophole in the declared principle of refusing to accept money from governments or political structures — Amnesty reserves the right to take money from government agencies if they are allocated to educational projects in the field of human rights.

Thanks to this, Amnesty International receives funding from a number of governments and international organizations. They include US State Department, the British authorities, and the European Commission. According to media, American billionaire George Soros allocates considerable funds to Amnesty International through his Open Society foundation.

Amnesty International’s activity has been repeatedly criticized. It is suspected of bias, selective approach to the published information, and even espionage. In particular, the authorities of Russia, the United States, and China have spoken out against this organization.

Yarovaya's package

"The amendments largely contradict Russia's international obligations in the field of human rights," the report says.

The human rights activists believe that "the authorities have excessively used the anti-extremist legislation, thereby violating the right to freedom of expression." The report points out that "according to SOVA non-profit organization, 90% of all convictions for extremism falls on statements and reposts in social networks."

The package of anti-terrorism laws signed by President Vladimir Putin in July 2016 requires telecom operators and Internet companies to store information on the content of conversations and correspondence of users, including photo, video and audio files, up to six months, to make it available upon request of special services. The regulation on user traffic storage comes into force on 1 July 2018.

North Caucasus

According to the report, "there continued to be reports of serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and alleged extrajudicial executions during the security forces operations in the North Caucasus. Human rights defenders were in danger there."

Human rights activists have mentioned the attack on "two representatives of the Joint Mobile Group (Svodnaya Mobilnaya Gruppa, SMG) human rights organization, their driver, and six journalists from Russian, Swedish and Norwegian media, who were traveling from North Ossetia to Chechnya." According to Amnesty International, they were stopped at the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya; 20 people dragged them out and brutally beaten, and then set the vehicle on fire.

March 9, member of the Human Rights Council under President of the Russian Federation Igor Kalyapin reported that a group of unknown persons, traveling in three cars, attacked a group of human rights defenders from the Joint Mobile Group and journalists on the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya. It was also reported about an attack on the Joint Mobile Group’s office ‘the Committee for the Prevention of Torture’ in Ingushetia. Head of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Evkurov said that the human rights activists attacked in his region had not maintained contact with the regional ombudsmen and journalists, although they should have coordinated their work with the regional authorities.

Criticism of the Chechen leadership

"The Chechen leadership continued to exert direct pressure on the judicial power. (Head of Chechnya — Editor’s note.) May 5, Ramzan Kadyrov gathered all the republic’s judges for a meeting and forced four of them to resign. Federal authorities have not responded to it in any way," Amnesty International claims.

In May, during a meeting with representatives of the judiciary, then-Acting Head of the region Ramzan Kadyrov suggested that Chechen judge Magomed Karataev as well as three judges voluntarily left their posts. Head of Chechnya cited cases of unjust sentences and delaying of criminal cases review. The practice of civil proceedings on disputed apartments also aroused displeasure of the region’s head.

It was later reported that Karatayev apologized to Kadyrov and wrote in his resignation. According to Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin has not found anything illegal in Kadyrov's proposal.

Mistreatment in colonies

"There have been widespread and systematic tortures and ill-treatment in places of detention and in colonies," human rights activists say. As an example, Amnesty International quotes a letter from Ildar Dadin, convicted for repeated violations of the rules for holding rallies, who told his wife about being "tortured and ill-treated in Segezha colony (Republic of Karelia)."

Dadin’s wife had previously reported on Facebook that her husband was tortured, beaten, and even received murder threats in colony. She claimed that the prison administration was informed of the developments and was involved in abuse. Following this, the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, the Investigative Committee, and the ombudsman office in Karelia announced about checks on the subject. Later, the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia reported that civilian doctors, who had arrived in the Karelian Colony No. 7, had found no traces of beatings and abuse on Dadin’s body. Deputy head of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia told reporters that the deal with Dadin’s case had been sealed.

Dadin is the first person convicted under criminal charges of repeated violations at rallies; he has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, of which he has about 5 months left. The Constitutional Court of Russia has previously found the criminal article under which Dadin had been convicted legitimate, but decided to review his case. As reported by RIA Novosti in the Supreme Court (SC) of the Russian Federation, the Presidium of the Russian Armed Forces will reconsider the sentence on February 22.

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