40 NGOs appeal to UN for release of Russian dissident Lyubov Sobol

PRESS RELEASE

40 NGOs appeal to UN for release of Russian dissident Lyubov Sobol

NEW YORK, March 9, 2020 — An international coalition of 40 UN-accredited non-governmental organizations from more than 25 countries appealed to top UN officials today to intervene for the immediate release of Russian human rights activist Lyubov Sobol, who is now under total isolation in house arrest for peacefully protesting. (See joint statement below)

In January, Ms. Sobol was arrested by Russian police for inciting “violations of sanitary standards” during a peaceful protest where thousands gathered to call for the release of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

The joint appeal was submitted today to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet by 40 associations accredited to the United Nations, including groups advocating human rights, democracy, and women’s empowerment.

According to the statement, Ms. Sobol has been condemned “to total isolation under house arrest” as she “awaits court proceedings on two fake criminal charges. She is prohibited from using the Internet, writing letters or making phone calls.”

The UN-accredited organizations are accusing the Russian government of violating Ms. Sobol’s rights to free speech, peaceful assembly, and due process, and Moscow’s obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

In the joint appeal, the groups urge the UN chief and rights commissioner “to hold the Russian government accountable to these obligations.”

“Russia made all kinds of promises as a newly-elected member of the UN’s human rights council, yet its arbitrary arrest and detention of Ms. Sobol are a blatant violation of human rights,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, the Geneva-based human rights watchdog which led the joint appeal.

“Ms. Sobol’s only crime was peacefully calling for a more fair, free and democratic Russia. She must be released immediately,” said Neuer. “The UN must take urgent action to free her now.”

__________

JOINT APPEAL FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OF RUSSIAN ACTIVIST 
LYUBOV SOBOL 

Sent on 9 March 2020 to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

We, the undersigned human rights activists and members of civil society, urge you to demand the immediate release of Russian rights activist Lyubov Sobol.

Ms. Sobol is a leading pro-democracy and anti-corruption activist in Russia. She was unlawfully detained by police on January 23, 2021 for inciting “violations of sanitary standards” during a peaceful protest where thousands gathered to call for the release of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

Incitement to “violate sanitary standards” is an absurd accusation that exposes the hypocrisy of the Kremlin. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic in July 2020, it was President Vladimir Putin who called on Russians to participate en masse in a rigged nationwide vote to amend the constitution, so that he could rule for life.

Ms. Sobol was also wrongfully charged last year for using violence to illegally enter the apartment of FSB officer Konstantin Kudryastev, alleged to have participated in the poisoning of Navalny.

Since then, authorities have condemned her to total isolation under house arrest, where Ms. Sobol awaits court proceedings on two fake criminal charges. She is prohibited from using the Internet, writing letters or making phone calls.

Despite these restrictions, Ms. Sobol’s campaign for a seat in the state Duma, elections for which will be held in September, has continued.

Russia’s arbitrary detention of Ms. Sobol constitutes a violation of its obligations under Article 9 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rightsas well as of Article 14 (right to due process of law), Article 19 (right to free speech) and Article 21 (right to peaceful assembly).

Moreover, as a newly-elected member of the UN Human Rights Council, Russia is in breach of its obligation under Resolution 60/251 to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

We further note that in order to win election to the Council, Russia pledged last year to “ensure protection of human rights and freedoms” on the basis of “the rules of international law” and “strict compliance by States with their international human rights obligations.”

We urge you to hold the Russian government accountable to these obligations, and to condemn its unlawful arrest, detention and criminal conviction of Ms. Sobol, whose only crime was peacefully calling for a more fair, free and democratic Russia.

Sincerely,

  1. Hillel Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
  2. James Gondwe, Centre for Youth and Development, Malawi
  3. Olufemi Aduwo, Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity Ltd Gte, Nigeria
  4. Emmanuel F. Sevidzem, Technical Centre for Fine Art and Computer Studies – TechCeFasCos Group, Cameroon
  5. Walid Maalouf, Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership, USA
  6. Ashok Yende, Global Vision India Foundation, India
  7. Fataï Aina, Amis d’Afrique Francophone-Bénin, Benin
  8. Syed Muhammad Ashfaq, Huqooq-ul-Ebad Development Foundation, Pakistan
  9. Norman Mapela, Isiziba Community Based Organizations of South Africa, South Africa
  10. Mahendranath Busgopaul, Halley Movement, Mauritius
  11. James Kimera Ssekiwanuka, CALM Africa, Uganda
  12. Victor Amisi Sulubika, Vision GRAM International, Canada & Democratic Republic of the Congo
  13. Teresa Kotturan, Sisters of Charity Federation, USA
  14. Howard Burman, Atheist Alliance International, USA
  15. Lucica Humeniuc, Romanian Independent Society of Human Rights – SIRDO, Romania
  16. Samir Kumar Das, IMAECSED, India
  17. Shahzada Ibrahim, Northern CCB, Pakistan
  18. Jenifer White, Project 1948 Foundation, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  19. Koudadje-Assagba Dope P. Adjoko, Credo-Action, Togo
  20. Huwayda Mohamed Ibrahim, South Sudanese Women Christian Mission for Peace, Sudan
  21. Dr. Rebecca Johnson, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, United Kingdom
  22. Roshan Sapkota, Union C, Nepal
  23. Ratna Joshi, Ballerina Management Institute, India
  24. Alba Lucia Castañeda Vélez, Corporación Red Nacional de Mujeres Comunales Comunitarias Indígenas y Campesinas de la República de Colombia, Colombia
  25. Mange Ram Adhana, Association for Promotion Sustainable Development, India
  26. Junichi Matsuda, Japanese Workers’ Committee for Human Rights, Japan
  27. Bokaba Bobetso, Panafrica, Switzerland
  28. Eithne Knappitsch, SIETAR Austria, Austria
  29. Mazi Jideofor Umeh, Ugonma Foundation, Nigeria
  30. Dr. Datuk Agung Sidayu, Yayasan Pendidikan Indonesia, Indonesia
  31. Syed Ejaz Hussain Shah, Computer Literacy Shelter Welfare Rawalpindi, Pakistan
  32. Carmen Quintanilla, Asociación de Familias y Mujeres del medio Rural, Spain
  33. Ntakirutimana Richard, African Initiative for Mankind Progress Organization, Rwanda
  34. Ronald King, Association of Christian Counsellors of Nigeria, Nigeria
  35. Thierry Valle, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, France
  36. Alison Judd, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, United Kingdom
  37. Tsuneko Kakiuchi, Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech, Japan
  38. Antonio García Allut, Fundación Lonxanet para la pesca sostenible, Spain
  39. Georges Radjou, Business Innovation Research Dev, France
  40. H.E. Mazi Jideofor Umeh, Ugonma Foundation, Nigeria

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