A Global Debate: Human Rights in the Russian Federation

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MOSCOW — An international struggle has formed between the government of the Russian Federation and the European Court of Human Rights. A series of bills and laws passing through the Russian Parliament pose possible threats to human rights in the Russian Federation including certain freedoms of association and speech. The European Court of Human Rights, as well as organizations like Humans Rights Watch, have condemned Russia for the recent regressive legislation that is reminiscent of Soviet Union era discrimination.

Much of the tension formed over a 2013 law. The Russian Parliament, or Duma, passed the law that fines “nontraditional” sexual relationships among minors but fails to clarify what constitutes nontraditional. Therefore, concern arose from the Russian LGBT community of whether or not violent hate groups or their own government would persecute them based on the lifestyles of its Russian citizens.

On the other hand, Russian political leaders have spoken up on the reasoning behind the law and state that the intent of the law is not to invoke discrimination, but to protect children from sexual malevolence. Dmitry Dedov, a Russian judge on the European Court of Human Rights, cited that over 50,000 children fall victim to sexual abuse annually, mostly from men, and deemed the legislation necessary in the interest to protect a “child’s perception of private and family life.”

Ultimately, the efforts of the bill were halted by the European Court of Human Rights as the court found it “unacceptable under the European Convention” according to the New York Times.

In 2016, Human Rights Watch, an organization dedicated to protect human rights and save lives from persecution, took notice of the Duma’s gradual infringement on human rights in the Russian Federation. This was demonstrated through the Yarovaya Law that passed in July 2016. According to Human Rights Watch, the law “requires that cellular and internet providers store all communications data for six months and that all metadata up to three years for potential access by security services.”

President Vladimir Putin signed the law allegedly to counter terrorism and extremism. However, many of those who were prosecuted for violating the Yarovaya Law were using their freedom of speech to openly write online that Crimea was Ukrainian territory, not Russian.

Protecting human rights in the Russian Federation while maintaining Russia’s cooperation to work with European political collectives is dependent on how the Russian Parliament manages its controversial legislation. Much of the reasoning behind the provocative laws is rooted in Russia’s impulse to preserve the morale of the public, even at the expensive of personal liberty.

Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s spokesman, responded to the demands of 80 humanitarian organizations to withdraw Russia’s seat at the UN Human Rights Council by saying, “If these organizations were as consistent and resolute in condemning the actions of these terrorists and supporting those who fight against these terrorists, then we would view their activity as more convincing and in accordance with reality.”

It is now evident that compromise must result between humanitarian organizations and the Russian Parliament to implement protective legislation over human rights in the Russian Federation that agrees with the religious, traditional sociopolitical sphere of Russia.

Kaitlin Hocker

Photo: Flickr

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