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  • Writer's pictureGlobal Human Rights Taskforce

Russia's Blatant Human Rights Violations Unveiled: An Investigative Report

Russia's Blatant Human Rights Violations Unveiled: An Investigative Report By: Globa Human Rights Taskforce President & Special Rapporteur Joseph Bonner

September 12, 2023

As an international human rights Special Rapporteur committed to uncovering the truth behind abhorrent global human rights violations, it is my solemn duty to expose the continuous and reprehensible indifference towards essential human rights within the boundaries of Russia. This comprehensive report serves as an unflinching exposé, meticulously illuminating numerous heinous acts committed by the Russian authorities. These acts brazenly contravene not only domestic laws but also flagrantly violate established international legal frameworks meticulously devised to safeguard the very essence of fundamental human rights. Such despicable transgressions demand nothing short of unyielding condemnation and swift, resolute action from the international community.

1. Violations of Freedom of Speech and Expression: The Russian government, under President Vladimir Putin's leadership, has been actively involved in targeting independent media outlets as part of a systematic campaign to suppress freedom of speech and expression. This pattern of behavior is evident through various means, such as threats, violence, legal persecution, and even assassination attempts against journalists and opposition figures. When it comes to threats, journalists who dare to criticize or expose the government's actions often face intimidation tactics. These can include personal threats, harassment, or attacks on their families and loved ones. Such actions create an environment of fear and self-censorship, stifling any dissenting voices and discouraging journalists from reporting on controversial issues. In addition to threats, violence is another method employed by the Russian government to silence the independent media. Journalists and opposition figures have been physically attacked, assaulted, and even killed for their critical reporting or political views. These violent acts create an atmosphere of terror, where journalists are forced to weigh the risks associated with their work against their personal safety and well-being. Legal prosecution is also a tool used to suppress freedom of speech. The Russian government often fabricates charges such as defamation, tax evasion, or incitement to violence to justify the arrest and imprisonment of journalists and activists. The intent behind these actions is to silence those who dare to speak out against the regime, using the legal system as a means to legitimize their suppression tactics. Furthermore, assassination attempts against journalists and opposition figures have become alarmingly common in Russia. Prominent individuals critical of the government have been targeted in high-profile cases, with some resulting in fatalities. These acts of violence send a chilling message to anyone who may challenge or question the government's authority, effectively deterring others from speaking out. By engaging in these actions, the Russian government flagrantly violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to seek, receive, and disseminate information and ideas through any media. This article recognizes the importance of freedom of expression as a fundamental human right and emphasizes the necessity of a free press for the functioning of a democratic society. In sum, the Russian government, led by President Vladimir Putin, has consistently targeted independent media outlets, journalists, and opposition figures in an orchestrated effort to suppress freedom of speech and expression. Through threats, violence, legal prosecution, and assassination attempts, the government aims to create an environment of fear and silence dissenting voices. These actions blatantly violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and undermine the principles of a democratic society.

2. Persecution of Religious Minority Groups in Russia

1. Jehovah's Witnesses: The Jehovah's Witnesses were officially banned in Russia in 2017 as an "extremist organization." Their literature is considered "extremist" and their activities are often targeted for repression, including arrests, raids, and confiscation of property. Respect for religious diversity and the freedom to practice one's faith lie at the core of respecting human rights. However, in recent years, Russia has faced significant criticism for violating these essential principles, particularly with its treatment of religious minority groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination with around eight million followers worldwide, have long faced persecution and discrimination due to their distinctive doctrinal beliefs. In Russia, this religious group has experienced increased suppression under the pretext of extremism, leading to gross human rights violations. Russia's treatment of the Jehovah's Witnesses highlights a wider pattern of persecution against various religious minorities in the country. Harassment and Arbitrary Detention: Since 2017, the Russian government labeled Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist organization and subsequently penetrated their activities with relentless legal action, threats, and harassment. Countless instances of home raids, confiscation of personal belongings, and unlawful arrests of Jehovah's Witnesses' members have taken place, often leading to arbitrary detention without proper legal recourse. These actions are clear violations of the rights to religious freedom, privacy, and due process. Ban on Worship and Property Confiscation: In 2017, Russia's Supreme Court declared the Jehovah's Witnesses an extremist organization, effectively banning their worship activities throughout the country. This ban has led to the shutting down of hundreds of Kingdom Halls (places of worship), leaving Jehovah's Witnesses without a legal space to gather and practice their faith. Furthermore, the government has seized and confiscated numerous properties owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses community, contributing to the erosion of their rights and preventing the exercise of their religious beliefs. Violence and Forced Conversions: Tragically, the persecution against Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally escalates to include acts of violence and coerced conversions. Reports have emerged of physical attacks, including beatings, sexual assault, vandalizations, and even arson attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses' homes, Kingdom Halls, and places of worship. Individuals within the Jehovah's Witnesses community have also described being subjected to psychological pressure aimed at forcing them to renounce their faith, often resulting in emotional trauma and distress. These acts of violence and coercion impede the religious freedom and safety of Jehovah's Witnesses, leaving them in constant fear and vulnerability. The international community has expressed concern and condemnation regarding Russia's treatment of religious minority groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses. Numerous organizations, including the United Nations Human Rights Council and the European Court of Human Rights, have criticized Russia's actions as severe violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief, however, more needs to be done to ensure that human rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other minority groups are protected.

Other religious minority groups that have faced human rights violations 1. Muslims: Some Muslim groups, particularly those associated with political Islam or Salafi teachings, have faced discrimination, monitoring by security forces, and prosecution in Russia. Certain restrictions on the construction and management of mosques have also been reported. 2. Falun Gong: This Chinese spiritual practice has encountered difficulties in Russia, with reports of harassment, surveillance, and discrimination against its practitioners. There have also been instances of detentions and denial of visas to Falun Gong practitioners. 3. Scientology: In 2015, the Church of Scientology was included in the Federal List of Extremist Organizations in Russia, which led to restrictions on its activities. Reports of harassment, discrimination, and treatment as an extremist group have also been documented. 4. Ethnic and Indigenous Religions: Various indigenous and ethnic religious groups, such as Tengrists, Pagans, and Shamanists, have faced challenges and marginalization in Russia. There have been reports of restrictions on religious rites and ceremonies, as well as difficulties in obtaining official recognition for their religious organizations.

4. Impunity and Abuse of Power: Rampant corruption in Russia has contributed to a serious impediment in the rule of law, leading to human rights abuses. This widespread issue is not just a mere allegation, but a well-documented and ongoing problem in the country. Numerous accounts of corruption exist across various sectors in Russia, including law enforcement and security forces. This corruption often results in a lack of accountability for excessive use of force and mistreatment of individuals in their custody. One example of this can be seen in the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested in 2008 after uncovering a massive corruption scheme involving government officials. While in detention, he was subjected to torture and denied medical treatment, ultimately leading to his death. Despite international outcry and evidence suggesting the involvement of high-ranking officials, those responsible for his mistreatment and death have largely enjoyed impunity. The problem of corruption extends beyond law enforcement and security forces. It permeates various levels of the Russian government and society, leading to a culture of impunity and a lack of accountability. This not only hinders the proper functioning of the rule of law but also undermines the basic rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. It is important to note that these examples are just a fraction of the numerous cases and accounts that highlight the serious human rights abuses caused by corruption in Russia. The brazen disregard for basic human rights principles, as enshrined in international declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is deeply troubling and calls for immediate attention and action from both domestic and international actors.

5. Ukraine Conflict

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, has been a clear violation of various human rights laws. These violations have had severe consequences not only for the people of Ukraine but also for the global economy. Russia's 2022 military invasion and subsequent occupation of multiple Ukraine providences have resulted in a historic human rights crisis in Ukrainian. The illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia has resulted in numerous human rights abuses, including arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and restrictions on freedom of expression, religion, and assembly. These actions are direct contraventions of international human rights laws and conventions. Moreover, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has led to a significant humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people have been killed, and millions have been internally displaced or forced to seek shelter in neighboring countries. This displacement not only violates the right to live in one's own country without fear but also puts tremendous pressure on the resources of host nations, straining their ability to address the needs of these displaced individuals. In addition to the humanitarian implications, the ongoing conflict has had significant repercussions for the global economy. The war has disrupted trade activities between Russia and Ukraine, as well as their respective trade partners. Economic sanctions imposed on Russia by various countries in response to its actions have resulted in reduced foreign direct investment, capital flight, and a decline in economic growth within the region. The instability created by the conflict has also hindered business operations, increased market uncertainty, and discouraged potential investors from engaging with both Russia and Ukraine. Furthermore, the economic ramifications extend beyond the immediate region. The European Union (EU), which is heavily reliant on Russian natural gas supplies, has faced energy security concerns due to the strained relations with Russia. This dependency has made the EU vulnerable to supply disruptions and price fluctuations, affecting the overall stability of the European economy. The conflict has also strained diplomatic relations between Russia and countries that support Ukraine, leading to deteriorating trade ties and hindering international cooperation on numerous global issues.

International Laws Russia Is In Violation of: Here are some examples of human rights laws with corresponding articles that Russia has violated: 1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): - Article 5: Russia has violated this article through allegations of torture and inhumane treatment, particularly in the context of prisons and detention centers. - Article 9: Russia has violated this article by carrying out arbitrary arrests, especially targeting political dissenters and human rights activists. 2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): - Article 7: Russia has violated this article through cases of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, particularly in relation to its treatment of prisoners. - Article 19: Russia has violated this article by restricting freedom of expression and suppressing media freedom, such as through censorship and targeting of journalists and opposition voices. 3. European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR): - Article 2: Russia has violated this article by alleged extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and violations of the right to life in relation to conflicts in regions like Chechnya and Ukraine. - Article 10: Russia has violated this article by restricting freedom of expression and media pluralism, including through the targeting of independent media outlets and journalists critical of the government. 4. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT): - Article 2: Russia has violated this article through allegations of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention, including reports of systemic abuse in prisons and police custody.

- Article 3: IRussia has violated this article by forcibly returning or extraditing individuals to countries where they may face a risk of torture or inhumane treatment. These examples are not exhaustive, but they provide a glimpse into some of the human rights laws and corresponding articles that Russia has been accused of violating. Please note that these allegations are based on reports by human rights organizations and there may be different interpretations or contestations of these claims.

Legal Recommendations:

The severity and persistence of human rights violations in Russia are deeply concerning and demand an immediate response from the international community. The Russian government's flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights laws is a clear violation of the principles of human dignity and equality that are cherished worldwide. One of the most alarming violations is the government's suppression of freedom of speech. Journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens who speak out against the government or express dissenting views are often met with harassment, intimidation, or even imprisonment. This silencing of voices undermines democracy and prevents the open exchange of ideas that is crucial for a healthy society.

One of the most alarming violations is the government's suppression of freedom of speech. Journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens who speak out against the government or express dissenting views are often met with harassment, intimidation, or even imprisonment. This silencing of voices undermines democracy and prevents the open exchange of ideas that is crucial for a healthy society.

Additionally, reports of torture and ill-treatment in Russian detention facilities are deeply troubling. The use of excessive force, inhumane treatment, and lack of access to legal representation violate the right to be free from torture and degrading treatment as enshrined in international law. These abuses not only violate the rights of individuals but also erode the trust and confidence in the justice system.

In light of these extraordinary violations, it is imperative for international authorities, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, to launch an additional investigation into Russia's human rights crisis. The international community must come together to shine a spotlight on these abuses, raise awareness, and hold accountable those responsible for violating human rights.

Strong and consistent international condemnation of these violations is essential to send a clear message that the international community stands united in defense of human rights. It is crucial that we recognize and defend the fundamental human rights of all individuals. Only through collective action and accountability can we hope to foster a world where human rights are universally respected, protected, and upheld for all.


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