Tuesday

31st May 2016

Russia attacks EU on human rights record

Xenophobia, racism, and neo-Nazism are among a long list of human rights violations frequently committed in the EU, according to a report released by the Russian Federation on Thursday (6 December).

“All this is in an obvious contradiction with the EU claims of being the model and often the 'supreme arbiter' as far as human rights and democratic freedoms are concerned,” states the 66-page report, published in English on Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs website.

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  • Moscow says the EU regularly violates and ignores human rights on its home turf (Photo: kremlin.ru)

The report says the European Commission and member states play lip service to human rights abroad but are reluctant to tackle problems closer to home.

“No progress in solving the EU internal issues and occasional lack of political will are in a stark contrast with the way the European Union lectures other countries,” says the report.

It notes that the commission’s investigation into “undemocratic reforms in Hungary has been virtually "soft-pedaled"”.

Lithuania, Poland and Romania, suspected of harbouring secret CIA prisons on their territories in the early 2000s, obstruct independent investigations into the allegations, it says.

Attacks and discrimination against minority groups like the Roma, large-scale human trafficking, drop in press freedoms, and growing anti-immigration sentiment are also cited.

The report also lists the member states that have not signed up to key human rights multilateral treaties. Ireland and the Czech Republic, it says, do not participate in a convention against child prostitution, child pornography and sale of children.

The report also analyses member states individually.

It claims there is unlawful detention of migrants in France, that Denmark breaches international legal norms by refusing to provide asylum to refugees from Afghanistan, and that Sweden disregards the rights of the child.

The Russian Federation, says the report, is willing to help the EU improve its human rights record through “a constructive dialogue of equals”.

Meanwhile, human rights organisations in Russia funded by foreign entities could risk administrative fines or imprisonment if they refuse to label themselves as “foreign agents”.

Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Centre, which won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2009, said it refuses to comply with the law which came into force on 21 November.

Magnitsky Act passed

Meanwhile, Russia’s human rights violations have not escaped US congressional scrutiny.

The senate overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday that would ban Russian officials involved in corruption and human rights violations from travelling into their territory. It also freezes their assets.

The bill is named after the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitksy who died in prison in 2009 after exposing a tax fraud scam involving high-ranking officials in Russia’s interior and tax ministries.

Russian authorities were quick to deride the legislative act, calling it “something out of the theatre of the absurd”.

Moscow is threatening to introduce its own version of the bill, banning American officials involved in human rights abuses.

The so-called Magnitsky Act is tied to a larger measure that aims to normalise trade relations with Russia following its August entry into the World Trade Organisation.

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