Calling on Moscow to end what they characterized as a “clampdown on public space,” 12 human rights experts urged on Wednesday that the situation had deteriorated “drasically” since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Most of the independent Russian media have been closed to avoid prosecution, or have been blocked, along with dozens of foreign media, the experts warned, including three special rapporteurs appointed by the Human Rights Council, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
They also noted that “more than 20 media have stopped working or suspended their work in the country, including the Nobel Prize-winning newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the last independent TV channel, Dozhd, and Moscow radio station Echo.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been blocked in Russia, the rights experts continued, adding that Meta had been “designated an extremist organization and banned”†
Detained for demonstrating
Of the many thousands of Russians who peacefully protested the war, “more than 16,000 (of them) … including many human rights defenders, have been arrested for participating in or covering peaceful anti-war protests,” the experts said in a statement.
Excessive force was used against demonstrators and human rights defenders imprisoned, the experts claimed, along with humiliating and threatening tactics.
And those providing legal aid to the detainees “have also reportedly been denied access to police stations and courts by law enforcement officers,” the experts said.
Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue or situation in a country. The positions are honorable and the experts are not paid for their work.
While “many other companies” – including international technology companies – withdrew from the Russian market to avoid reputation and legal risks, human rights defenders and civil society organizations “little access to the information and communication infrastructure (which is essential for their work),” said the human rights experts.
“Companies must take human rights into account in their activities and try to help Russian human rights defenders and civil society organizations to avoid complete isolationthey noted.