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Russian Federation
, Europe

LGBTI rights | ISHR intervenes in international legal proceedings against Russia

In a significant legal intervention, ISHR asks the UN Human Rights Committee to rule that Russia has violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as rights elaborated in the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

ISHR has submitted a third-party intervention to the UN Human Rights Committee in relation to an individual complaint regarding attacks against Sasha Krikkerik, an advocate for LGBTI rights in Russia.

Krikkerik and her colleagues were physically and verbally attacked on two instances by unknown assailants, once when leaving the St Petersburg Pride Parade and the other during a private meeting. Russian authorities failed to either investigate or act on these attacks.

ISHR’s submission urges the UN Human Rights Committee to consider the case in light of the current broader situation with regard to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Russia.

‘Working in defence of the rights of LGBTI people carries with it specific and heightened risks,’ said ISHR’s Legal Counsel Tess McEvoy. ‘This is particularly the case in Russia, where the precarious situation for LGBTI rights defenders has been exacerbated in recent years with the enactment of laws violating fundamental rights to equality and non-discrimination. These laws have been associated with an increase in cases of homophobic violence and vilification,’ McEvoy added.

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Russia has certain obligations. This case demonstrates Russia’s blatant violation of a number of those obligations, including its obligation to protect its citizens from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, togther with its obligation to investigate and remedy violations. Russia has also failed to adopt laws to protect its citizens’ rights under the ICCPR, provide an effective remedy for a violation of those rights, and ensure cases are heard by a competent judicial, administrative or legislative authority.

ISHR’s intervention is intended to assist the Human Rights Committee by providing an extended analysis of the scope of the rights under the ICCPR, and demonstrates that not only did Russia violate its obligations under the ICCPR, it also violated its obligations under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Yogyakarta Principles, which apply existing human rights standards to the specific issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘The Russian authorities’ failure to prevent and investigate these attacks was a flagrant violation of Russia’s obligation to take measures to prevent and provide protection from all forms of discrimination, violence and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity’, said McEvoy.

She added, ‘Sasha Krikkerik’s right to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights is clearly articulated in the ICCPR and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, as is Russia’s obligation to ensure protection of its citizens against threats, attacks, or discrimination as a consequence of the exercise of those rights’.

The ISHR intervention urges the Human Rights Committee to rule that Russia has violated the ICCPR, the Yogyakarta Principles and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. ISHR also urges the Committee to recommend that Russia repeal laws that restrict or discriminate against human rights defenders and enact and implement laws and policies that enable defenders to carry out their work safely and free from discrimination.

ISHR was provided with expert pro bono assistance in the preparation of the third party intervention by leading international law firm Allens.




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