Posts Tagged ‘Justice Ministry’

First administrative case opened against election watchdog GOLOS in Russia

April 11, 2013

I have expressed concern in earlier posts about the efforts of several governments – especially Russia – who use legal and administrative means to stop or restrict the work of NGOs. Russia uses the gimmick of requiring NGOs that receive funding from abroad to register as ‘foreign agents’. Many organisations have vowed to refuse. The campaign however grinds on and now Front Line reports the first case:Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

On 9 April 2013, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation opened a case of administrative violation against the NGO ‘GOLOS’ Association for the defence of the rights of voters and its executive director Ms Lilya Shibanova. The Ministry of Justice stated on its official website that GOLOS receives foreign funding and participates in political activity, so the organisation should have registered as a ‘foreign agent’ and, by failing to do so, has infringed Article 19.34(1).  On 10 April 2013, the Ministry of Justice will transmit the administrative case against GOLOS to the court. As GOLOS and its executive director have already made public their decision not to register as ‘foreign agent’ under any circumstances, the administrative conviction may be the first step to the closure of the organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

Russia goes ahead with hundreds of inspections against HRDs to paralyse human rights work

March 26, 2013

I have reported extensively over the last days on the question of growing judicial and administrative harassment of NGOs and human rights defenders, including the adoption of a resolution last week by the UN Human Rights Council recalling that “domestic law and administrative provisions […] should facilitate the work of human rights defenders, including by avoiding any criminalization, stigmatization, impediments, obstructions or restrictions thereof contrary to international human rights law”. Still, this is exactly what the Russian Federation is doing at the moment according to a statement by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Hundreds of NGOs are being subjected to inspections by Government officials across the Russian Federation. This follows the adoption in 2012 of several laws contradicting the right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression. …Since the end of February until today, dozens of inspections of NGOs have been launched in at least 13 regions of the Russian Federation, including Krasnodar, Moscow, Orenburg, Penza, Perm and Altai territories, St. Petersburg, Primorsky, Saratov and Rostov provinces. In St. Petersburg, the Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor declared on March 19, 2013 that over the month some 5,000 inspections would be conducted to check compliance with the laws on terrorism, extremism as well as other offences. After this date, dozens of NGOs were inspected in St. Petersburg, including LGBT, human rights and environmental NGOs. Across the country, these operations have been conducted by prosecutors, together with, in some cases, officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Security Service FSB, the Ministry of Emergencies, the Federal Service for Supervision of Protection of Consumer Rights and Human Well-Being, the Tax Inspectorate, the Centre E, a unit specialised in anti-extremism, and even the fire service. According to the information received, inspections have particularly targeted groups that supposedly receive foreign funding and conduct monitoring or advocacy work. The scope of the inspections appears to be far-ranging, though inspectors have particularly insisted on the issue of funding. The massive character as well as methods used during inspections disproportionately interfere with the right to freedom of association: the number of inspections is massive, most inspections are unannounced, NGOs have been given short deadlines to provide a huge amount of documents and vague and non-exhaustive lists of requirements. In the case of prominent NGO Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, a pro-government TV crew was informed and present during the inspection. The news report entitled “Memorial hides its income from the Prosecutors Office” was broadcast the same day before the end of the inspection, in flagrant violation of the presumption of innocence. “Information on NGOs sources of funding are public. Read the rest of this entry »