Nachfolgend dokumentieren wir die Stellungnahme des Menschenrechtszentrums Memorial zum "Memorandum russischer Menschenrechtler" in englischer Übersetzung

 

Response of the Council of the Memorial Human Rights Center

Over the past year, the possibility of Russia’s withdrawal or expulsion from the Council of Europe has been actively discussed in the media and social networks.

Such a development will inevitably cause extremely serious consequences for the human rights situation in our country.

In the face of this threat, a group of Russian human rights activists issued a special Memorandum, and invited other like-minded members of Russian human rights NGOs to join the appeal. Our colleagues express their great concern and declare that Russia should remain in the Council of Europe, since, for our citizens, the European Court of Human Rights - the most important institution in the Council of Europe – is probably the only higher authority that can protect their basic human rights. Decisions issued by the European Court of Human Rights allow Russian civil society to fight for and sometimes achieve systemic changes in legislation and law enforcement practice. The Memorandum sets forth specific proposals addressed to the Council of Europe by the signatories. They propose to soften the sanctions against the Russian delegation in order to prevent it from pulling out of PACE.

The Memorial Human Rights Center did not sign this Memorandum for several reasons.

We believe that Russia should remain in the Council of Europe (CofE), and we acknowledge the statement so clearly voiced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov on October 16, 2018: “We joined the Council of Europe on the principle that it provides for a pan-European, universally legal and humanitarian space.”

For Europe, Russia’s exclusion from the Council of Europe would be an extremely irrational and short-sighted step. Membership in this international organization means that CofE member states recognize the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as a benchmark, and that only constant monitoring of the fulfillment of Convention requirements can ensure a pan-European universally legal and humanitarian space. It would be unwise to exclude Russia from such control. Such a development is highly unlikely as, in accordance with the CofE Charter, if a member state halts its contributions, only its participation in the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly can be suspended. However, Russia continues to enjoy the benefits of being present in the Committee of Ministers, and no one has yet voiced any remarks or opposition.

We also hope that Russia will re-consider its withdrawal from the Council of Europe. Departure from the CoE would primarily hurt Russian citizens, depriving them of two most important instruments - the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the European Court of Human Rights. Of course, we know that our country’s government is not very concerned with the observance of basic human rights. The sanctions against the Russian PACE delegation annoy the Kremlin, the government and the deputies. However, we believe that the Russian authorities are pragmatic enough not to break ties that are important to both Russia and Europe. In fact, the loud and boisterous statements made by different Russian politicians about an eventual withdrawal are aimed at the domestic audience, and no one else. In any case, permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, Ivan Soltanovskiy, spoke quite clearly on this issue on September 13, 2018: “Currently, the issue of Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe is not relevant.”

However, if there are indeed serious concerns about isolationist factions taking over our country’s leadership, thus leading to the deterioration of human rights protection for Russian citizens, then we must address our appeals and exhortations to the Russian government, and not the Council of Europe. We consider it unwarranted, especially on the part of Russian human rights activists, to ask the CofE to make unilateral concessions if Russia consistently refuses to change its position. By appeasing a serious breach of international law and ignoring Russia’s human rights obligations, the CofE will trigger devastating consequences for international protection mechanisms. In the long run, such actions are bound to harm our country.

14.12.2018

 

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