Refusal to Register NGO a Blow to Human Rights in Russia | Freedom House

Refusal to Register NGO a Blow to Human Rights in Russia

Washington

Freedom House condemns the Russian Justice Ministry’s refusal to grant registered NGO status to the Dutch organization Russian Justice Initiative. RJI is the leading organization representing victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucuses at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It was denied registration after it failed to submit a report detailing its organizational plans and finances by the deadline.

There are more cases against Russia at the ECHR than any other country, with Russia losing most of these cases and forced to pay large fines. Since 2001, the Russian Justice Initiative won 10 million euros (almost $13 million) in court actions on behalf of Chechnyan residents who filed complaints. RJI has brought to the court 230 of the current 320 cases associated with grave human rights abuses in Chechnya and other North Caucasus republics.

“The Russian Justice Initiative has played a key role in pushing for accountability in Russia,” said Susan Corke, director for Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Since cases of human rights violations against state authorities rarely result in justice in the Russian court system, the European Court of Human Rights is the only place where these cases can be fully pursued. RJI helps citizens of Chechnya and the North Caucuses access justice that is all too often denied to them.”

RJI attempted to re-register three times and was denied each time – it is now appealing to a Moscow court.  Until its registration is renewed, the organization’s casework is on hold.  Depending on how long re-registration takes, the organization might miss important ECHR deadlines, jeopardizing the outcome of many of its cases.

“Russia uses tools such as denial of registration to constrain rather than enable civil society.  In this instance, the application of extensive bureaucratic requirements is being used yet again to stifle respected organizations that are a thorn in the government’s side,” Corke said.

Russia is ranked Not Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2011. Nations in Transit gives Russia a democracy score of 6.18 out of 7.00, placing it between Tajikistan and Kazakhstan and categorizing it as a Consolidated Authoritarian Regime.

For more information on Russia, visit:

Nations in Transit 2011:  Russia
Freedom in the World 2011: Russia
Freedom of the Press 2011: Russia
Freedom on the Net 2011: Russia
Freedom at Issue: Russia blog

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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