Court decision to ban Russian Justice Initiative unacceptable
The Moscow City Court today decided to exclude the Russian Justice Initiative from the list of international organisations allowed to function in Russia. – The court decision sets an alarming precedence, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. It means that one of the biggest international human rights organisations in Russia is prohibited from doing its important work. It opens up for more similar cases against other international organisations.
Russia Justice Initiative represents Russian citizens in the European Court of Human Rights, and has won more than hundred cases. Many of the cases relates to grave abuses committed in North Caucasus, including arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. The Moscow City Court decision is based on restrictive laws on non-governmental organisations. It also illustrates developments of a more difficult climate for cooperation between Russian and international organisations.
– We urge Norwegian authorities and authorities in other European countries to raise this case with Russian authorities. Council of Europe, which hosts the European Court of Human Rights, should bring up the case as a matter of priority, said Engesland. – It is absolutely unacceptable that an organisation such as the Russian Justice Initiative is excluded from Russia.
On February 2011, Alexander Fedorov, the first Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Justice had instructed to exclude the Russian Justice Initiative from the list of international non-governmental organisations in Russia. In April 2011 the organisation lodged a complaint at a Moscow Court. Only a year later, in April 11, 2012, the Zamotskvoretsky regional court of Moscow, after having examined an appeal, rejected to satisfy the complaint from the organisation.
In today’s decision, the Moscow City Court confirmed this decision, based on the organization failing to deliver a report on time.
Russian Justice Initiative was established in 2001 in the Netherlands, having its main office in Moscow and a representative office in Nazran (Ingushetia). After a new law on non-governmental organisations introducing cumbersome registration procedures took effect in 2006, the organization had to discontinue its activities. It was twice refused from being registered at the Federal Registration Office. However, in February 2007 the organisation succeeded in being registered.
Lawyers from Russian Justice Initiative have filed hundreds of complaints to the European Court of Human Rights, representing more than 1500 Russian citizens. The organisation remains one of the most important legal aid organisations in Russia.
Russian Justice Initiative: www.rji.org
Russian News Articles: http://kommersant.ru/doc/1890329