Russia rightly interferes on Gitmo but does not appreciate interference on its own record

May 21, 2013

Konstantin Dolgov (Image from vaseljenska.com)

(Konstantin Dolgov -Image from vaseljenska.com)

On 16 May 2013 Russia Today spoke with the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov, to find out his view on the situation as the hunger strike in Guantanamo hits its’ 100-day landmark. It is good to see Russia express its concern about this and even invoke the views of human rights defenders. Below I give some quotes from the interview. If only Russia would always be so concerned with their views! As to  illustrate this the Moscow Times comes today with an article by Jonathan Earle saying  “Kremlin Faces Barbs From All Sides on Human Rights“, which states that “Russia is facing a renewed barrage of international criticism, led by the European Union, over its human rights record in connection with an ongoing clampdown on non-governmental organizations and a State Duma proposal to ban so-called “homosexual propaganda.”  It also refers to EU

 concerns about the impact of the law that requires NGOs that engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding to register as “foreign agents,” a term widely associated with treason. [

Last month, elections watchdog Golos was fined 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for failing to register, becoming the first NGO to be punished for falling afoul of the controversial law. The Memorial  anti-discrimination center in St. Petersburg and others could face similar penalties.]

Russia was expected to get another earful on Monday 20 May, when Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland of the Council of Europe, the continent’s oldest human rights organization, was scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin. The SG is scheduled to meet with Russian NGOs today and Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov to discuss how the law should be changed. Earlier this month, the UN special rapporteurs on freedom of association, human rights defenders and freedom said implementation of the law was having “obstructive, intimidating and stigmatizing effects” on Russian civil society. Amnesty International on Thursday is to publish its annual report and likely to add to the criticism.

Russian diplomats – somewhat contradictory in view of the Gizmo criticism mentioned above – called this interference in Russia’s internal affairs according to a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website. Moreover, Russia also came back with human rights accusations of its own, urging the EU to pressure Latvia and Estonia to protect the rights of Russian-speaking minorities and condemn “attempts to glorify” former Nazi SS legionnaires.

Here some quotes from Russia Today of 16 May:

RT: It is one hundred days since the hunger strike in Guantanamo began, and we’re hearing shocking reports about prisoners being force-fed. What do you make of that? How does that comply with the human rights and violations of human rights?
Konstantin Dolgov: It definitely does not comply either with the human rights as such or with the respective obligations and commitments which the United States has before the international community in the field of human rights. We have said many, many times before that the entire existence of this special prison in Guantanamo contravenes the basic international tenets in the field of human rights. So the situation, which is still ongoing, with the hunger strike, obviously is a matter of concern – not only to us, but to the entire international community and, obviously, to the human rights defenders, including American human rights defenders. We have seen many statements coming from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, coming from other institutions, international institutions defending human rights. In all those statements, there is one major request, or I would rather say demand, addressed to the United States government – to close down finally this particular prison.

…..They are telling us that the US Congress does not support closing down the prison, which factually is true, but obviously we continue to think that the administration, that the government of the US has to meet the international obligations of that country and they have to undertake resolute steps to finally close down the prison which has been the arena of multiple violations of human rights, not only this ongoing situation with the hunger strike.

Yes, we are concerned by the information which we are receiving that there have been violations of the rights of inmates. You know that quite a number of them, they had to be released years ago, because the US courts have made such a decision, I think, a couple of years ago.  But they are still there. They are still inmates, they are still kept in prison because those decisions by the courts, for this reason or that, are not implemented. So there are multiple violations of human rights. I must reiterate that we were planning to send a delegation to Guantanamo, a Russian inter-agency delegation, with the leading role, obviously, of the Foreign Ministry, but unfortunately this visit has not been carried out so far. It is not reasonable to go without having an opportunity to see our Russian citizen, Ravil Mingazov, who is still kept in that prison, he is an inmate. He is the last Russian citizen in Guantanamo. Obviously we want – and we have notified the American side in due course, in due form – that we want to get firsthand information about the conditions in which Mingazov is kept there, …

and most of the rest of the interview deals with this case.

via Gitmo prison must be closed down ASAP – Russian human rights envoy — RT Op-Edge.

and

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/kremlin-faces-barbs-from-all-sides-on-human-rights/480221.html#ixzz2TvYTSLBB

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