Legal actions against Golos violates human rights | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Legal actions against Golos violate human rights

Legal actions against Golos violate human rights

On April 25, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents. NHC was a witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself in violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles, approx. 9 500 USD. On 9 April Golos, a renowned human rights NGO conducting election monitoring in Russia, and Golos director Lilia Shibanova, was informed by the Ministry of Justice that a case is initiated against them for being in breach of the 2012 "foreign agents law”. – To initiate legal actions against a human rights organizations for not having registered as a “foreign agent”, is a violation by Russian authorities of international standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders clearly states the rights of human rights defenders to receive funding from abroad.

– To initiate legal actions against a human rights organizations for not having registered as a “foreign agent”, is a violation by Russian authorities of international standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders clearly states the rights of human rights defenders to receive funding from abroad.

Golos and Shibanova received the 2012 Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) Sakharov Freedom award. The prize money is the basis for the case against Golos. The “foreign agents law” requires NGOs that receive funding from abroad for the purpose of political activity to register as “foreign agents”.

– NHC considers the law to be in breach of international human rights standards on freedom of organisation, said Ekeløve-Slydal. In a recent development, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed the rights of human rights defenders. In its 21 March 2013 resolution, supported by the Russian Federation, the Council called upon states to ensure “that no law should criminalize or delegitimize activities in defence of human rights on account of the origin of funding thereto”.

The Sakharov Freedom Award was presented to Golos on 23 October 2012 as recognition of the valuable work the organization has done in Russia in promoting democratic values and in organizing observation of elections. Golos was presented as a professional organization, promoting in particular civil and political human rights. This should not to be considered “political activities”.

– Furthermore, the prize money of the Sakharov Freedom Award is not “project cooperation”, said Ekeløve-Slydal. Project funding is provided on the basis on a mutual agreement to conduct specific activities in the future. The award is recognition of past achievements. It should also be added that while Golos accepted the award, it declined to receive the money.

 

Read a statement from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee annual Council meeting here (in Norwegian)

Golos convicted in Moscow Court.

Read more about Sakharov Freedom Award 2012 to Golos here.