Analytics and Interview

On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch and Honorary Participant of International Youth Human Rights Movement: As the crisis in Ukraine escalated this spring, the Kremlin’s vicious crackdown on civil society also escalated. Space for independent civic activity in Russia is shrinking dramatically, but international policymakers and the media have been understandably too distracted to do much about it. Since early spring, it seems as though every week brings a new pernicious law or legislative proposal.
Earlier this year, the correspondent of Youth Human Rights Movement from Germany Jakob Stürmann interviewed Konstantin Baranov, member of the Coordination Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. They discussed so called “law against homosexual propaganda” and the overall situation of LGBT in Russia.  

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Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Hennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chyrniy have been held in Russian jails for two years already under fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’. We consider it being necessary to express solidarity with those who are persecuted due to their pro-Ukrainian views, civic stand and desire for freedom in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Helsinki Committee of Armenia has published “Human Rights in Armenia 2014” Annual Report. The report reflects on the Right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Political Persecutions, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, The Rights of the Child, Protection of Labor Rights.
«We have a few questions for you,» a border guard told Sinaver Kadyrov, a Crimean Tatar activist, at the Armyansk checkpoint in northern Crimea on Jan. 23. Kadyrov was on his way to Kherson, in southern Ukraine, to fly to Turkey for medical treatment. It was the beginning of an ordeal that ended with a local court expelling him from Crimea, his home of almost 25 years.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Human Rights Watch is concerned about recent reports of threats against disability activist Andrey Fedosov

Дата публикации: 

Human Rights Watch is seriously concerned about recent reports of threats against disability activist, Andrey Fedosov, which appear to have been made in retaliation for his efforts to document living conditions at several psychiatric institutions in the Crimea.  This is all the more concerning given that the poor living conditions at institutions that Mr. Fedosov has documented are very serious and merit urgent attention. We urge you to take steps to investigate both the threats against Mr. Fedosov and the conditions in psychiatric institutions in the Crimea, particularly in light of Ukraine's recent ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Mr. Fedosov and his organization Uzer (Ukrainian organization of users of psychiatric care) have monitored the conditions in six public psychiatric hospitals in Crimea. Conditions in three of these Institutions-the Crimea Republican Psychiatric Hospitals Number 2 and 4, and City Psychiatric Hospital Number 3 in Fedosia-all visited during the week of April 19, were so poor that the organization has asked the prosecutor's office to investigate. According to Mr. Fedosov and questionnaires filled out by residents, sanitary and living conditions in these three institutions are extremely poor and residents in all three reported physical abuse by staff. Mr. Fedosov told Human Rights Watch that strong smell of excrement penetrated one of the facilities; in another, some patients were locked behind metal bars and  forced to use buckets as toilets. In the third institution, residents complained that they had no access to clean, running water, and were given one bucket of water every ten days for wash. All residents of that institution also complained of beatings. In all institutions, there were no options for residents to seek privacy, including in bathrooms.

Such conditions fall foul of the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment, as provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Article 10 of the ICCPR requires, among others, that "[a]ll persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person." This principle of dignity is also one of the fundamental principles of the CRPD. Such conditions would also infringe on the right to physical and mental integrity and the prohibition of violence, abuse and exploitation against persons with disabilities, enshrined in the CRPD. Human Rights Watch calls on your government to investigate the conditions in all psychiatric institutions - public and private - and take the necessary steps to ensure that conditions and treatment at these facilities fully respect the rights of persons with disabilities.

We also urge you to investigate the threats against Mr. Fedosov. Mr Fedosov told Human Rights Watch that he received two phone calls on Sunday, April 25 after he announced on his Facebook page that he would file a complaint with the prosecutor's office regarding the conditions in three of the psychiatric institutions in the Crimea he had visited the previous week. A man, who introduced himself as Nikolai Vasilievich but did not give a last name, warned him not to make his findings public, threatening that his health could be in danger. Mr Fedosov has reported the threats to the prosecutor's office and has left Crimea for security reasons.

Independent monitoring of psychiatric institutions is an important safeguard for the rights of people with disabilities who live in institutions, and the involvement of civil society in the monitoring process for the CRPD is explicitly recognized under Article 33 of the Convention. Threats such as those made against Mr. Fedosov discourage civil society from monitoring conditions at these institutions.

We also note that the CRPD provides for a right for people with disabilities to live in the community, rather than in institutions. It is our understanding that many people at these institutions could live in the community if the government began a process of deinstitutionalization and provided quality support at the community level. We encourage the Ukrainian government to take steps to ensure people with disabilities can realize this right.

Thank you for your care and attention to this matter. We will look to the Ukraine government to continue to demonstrate its commitment to disability rights through its cooperation with civil society in monitoring compliance with the CRPD and its reform of psychiatric institutions.


Joseph Amon
Director, Health and Human Rights
Human Rights Watch

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