Tag - Eastern Europe ( 5 )

News | UN rights experts urge Russia to drop Jehovah’s Witness lawsuit which threatens religious freedom

Apr 04 2017

GENEVA –  Moves by the Russian Government to ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses using a lawsuit brought under anti-extremism legislation have been condemned as “extremely worrying” by three United Nations human rights experts*. “This lawsuit is a threat not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to individual freedom in general in the Russian Federation,” the experts said. “The use of counter-extremism legislation in this way to confine freedom of opinion, including religious belief, expression and association to that which is state-approved is unlawful and dangerous, and signals a dark future for all religious freedom in Russia,” they stressed. The condemnation follows a lawsuit lodged at the country’s Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Centre ‘extremist’, to liquidate it, and to ban its activity. A suspension order came into effect on that date, preventing the Administrative Centre and all its local religious centres from using state and municipal news media, and from organizing and conducting assemblies, rallies and other public events. A full court hearing is scheduled for 5 April and if the Supreme Court rules in favour of the authorities, it will be the first such ruling by a court declaring a registered centralized... Continue reading →

News | Russian Federation: “Immediately release detained peaceful protesters”

Mar 29 2017

(русский язык) GENEVA – UN human rights experts, including Maina Kiai, are calling on the authorities in the Russian Federation to release immediately everyone arrested in peaceful demonstrations across the country on Sunday. Reports say up to one thousand peaceful demonstrators, including many young people, who took to the streets following allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister, were arrested by police who had deemed the protests unlawful. A number of these protesters were subsequently sentenced to imprisonment and fines. A group of human rights activists were also arrested and sentenced to jail after live-streaming the protests. In addition, a couple of journalists covering the demonstrations were arrested and later released. “We call on the authorities to release immediately all protesters still being detained, and to quash the sentences imposed on them,” stressed the experts. “While we welcome the release of arrested journalists, their arrest should not have taken place in the first place as this represents an attack not only on the safety of the individual journalist, but also on the public’s right to information about the protests. This right is equally hindered through the sentencing of the citizen journalists who live-streamed the events,” said the... Continue reading →

News | Российская Федерация: “Незамедлительно освободите задержанных мирных демонстрантов”

Mar 29 2017

(English) Женева – Эксперты ООН в области прав человека* призывают власти Российской Федерации незамедлительно отпустить каждого, кто был задержан в рамках мирных демонстраций, которые прошли в стране в воскресенье. По сообщениям, до тысячи мирных демонстрантов, включая множество молодых людей, которые вышли на улицы после заявлений о коррумпированности премьер-министра, были арестованы полицией, считавшей протесты незаконными. Несколько таких протестующих впоследствии были приговорены к арестам и штрафам. Группа правозащитников  также была задержана и приговорена к аресту по причине ведения Интернет-трансляции протестов. Кроме того, были задержаны и позднее освобождены двое журналистов, освещавших данные... Continue reading →

News | Belarus: UN expert decries return of mass violence against peaceful protestors, demands release of all detained

Mar 28 2017

GENEVA – The Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, has expressed dismay over the Government’s open return to the policy of violent mass repression  against peaceful demonstrators, non-governmental organizations, journalists and political opponents, and is calling on the authorities of Belarus to stop harassment and violence. His statement was endorsed by Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai and a number of other UN experts. The crackdown on March 25 and 26 against dozens of human rights defenders, both local and international, came after hundreds of peaceful demonstrators against the Government’s social policies had been violently attacked, arbitrarily arrested and deprived of their liberty, and then summarily fined or sentenced to  prison from one to two weeks. Reports also indicate that the Internet was cut off. “The events of the last weekend prove the pre-meditated character of the repressive measures, and show an open return by the Government to its old policy of mass repression against citizens who exercise or dispense defense for human rights provided by the constitution and international treaties”, the Rapporteur stressed. Since early February, demonstrators have been protesting against a decree under which a fine can be levied against anyone who does not... Continue reading →

News | UN Special Rapporteur concerned about recurring violence against demonstrators in Belarus

Mar 14 2017

GENEVA – Belarus is being urged by a UN human rights expert to stop acts of violence and harassment against demonstrators and to respect freedom of peaceful assembly. The appeal comes from the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and follows reports of mass arrests and intimidation of activists protesting against the presidential decree “On the Prevention of Social Dependence”, also referred to as the “anti-parasitism” law. The order by President Lukashenko allows fines to be imposed on anyone who does not work more than 183 days and is not declared officially unemployed. As implementation began last month, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest. Mr. Haraszti described the decree as “an arbitrary and cruel measure”, estimated to affect more than 470,000 Belarusians. “These people are not only singled out and stamped as ‘society’s parasites’, but they are subjected to substantial fines amounting to the equivalent of USD250, or about two thirds of the average monthly wage in Belarus.” Following demonstrations held for several weeks in many parts of the country, the President has reportedly suspended the collection of the fines for this year. However, he also stressed that he does not rescind the decree. Additionally, he has... Continue reading →