OHCHR says the closure of the Moscow Helsinki Group is another setback for Russian human rights

Date:

Justice Department involvement

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Friday, January 27, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Maria Hurtado says that the ruling is just the latest “in a string of acts against civil society,” as well as journalists, other media, opposition groups, and people who fight for human rights.

  • She pointed out that MHG was established in 1976 by well-known dissidents and covered human rights abuses in the USSR and afterwards in the Russian Federation.

  • It is named after a treaty that the Soviet government signed that supported human rights and fundamental freedoms.

  • Justice Department involvement was shut down because the Justice Ministry filed a lawsuit saying that the group was only registered to protect human rights in Moscow and not anywhere else in the country.

  • In response to the decision, the organization said it would appeal, called the action “disproportionate,” and vowed to keep up its work.

Maria Hurtado says that the ruling is just the latest “in a string of acts against civil society,” as well as against journalists, other media, opposition groups, and people who fight for human rights.

She said that well-known dissidents started MHG in 1976 and that it reported on abuses of human rights in the USSR and then in the Russian Federation. It is named after a treaty that the Soviet government signed that supported human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Justice Department involvement

It was shut down because the Justice Ministry filed a lawsuit saying that the group was only registered to protect human rights in Moscow and not anywhere else in the country.

News reports claim that MHG has always had a broader mandate. In response to the decision, the organization said it would appeal, called the action “disproportionate,” and vowed to keep up its work.

The case against MHG was based on an inspection from the Justice Ministry from the year before, which the group says was illegal.

A “national crackdown”

Since the Russian Federation went to war with Ukraine, Ms. Hurtado said, “this national attack on independent journalism and voices that disagree with the government has gotten worse.”

In a democratic society, any limits on the fundamental rights to organize and speak out “must meet the strict requirements of necessity and proportionality in the pursuit of a legitimate goal,” she said.

Do not gag reporters

The organization shouldn’t be shut down, and the Russian government shouldn’t “stifle reporting” on important issues that matter to the public.

She says the government must live up to its obligations under international human rights law by “allowing the debate of different and plural perspectives in society and the media.”

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