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The UN creates a special rapporteur mandate to monitor the repression of opponents in Russia

The UN Human Rights Council broke new ground by creating, on Friday, October 7, a special rapporteur’s mandate to monitor the repression of opponents in Russia.

The forty-seven member states of the Council adopted a resolution to this effect – proposed by a large number of member countries of the European Union – with seventeen votes in favour. Twenty-four countries abstained and six voted against, including China but also Cuba and Venezuela.

This is the first time that Moscow has been targeted by a text concerning the human rights situation inside the country. Before the vote, the Russian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, criticized the text and accused “Western countries to use the Council for political purposes”. Moscow, which left the Council when the UN General Assembly voted for its expulsion, nevertheless has observer status and, as such, can express itself in the Council.

The resolution resolves to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor “the human rights situation” for a period of one year. He will have to “collect, review and evaluate relevant information from all stakeholders, including Russian civil society, both inside and outside the country”.

“For years we have witnessed a continuous deterioration of the human rights situation in the Russian Federation, which has accelerated in recent months”declared the Ambassador of Luxembourg, Marc Bichler, presenting the text to the Council.

“Recent draconian laws aimed at stifling independent media and ‘undesirable’ organisations, harsh penalties for anyone who questions the government or the large number of people arrested in the context of demonstrations are some recent examples of a policy of systematic repression”he said.

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