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The IBA’s response to the situation in Ukraine
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) strongly condemns the arrest of Alexey Navalny, prominent anti-corruption activist and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation State. The IBAHRI also condemns the infringement of Mr Navalny’s right to a lawyer, as reported by his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh.
IBAHRI Co-Chair and former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996–2006), the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented:‘Mr Navalny’s arrest is another shocking attempt by the Russian authorities to silence political opposition and the human rights community in Russia. Coupled with his being denied access to legal counsel, it amounts to a flagrant denial of basic human rights and total disrespect for the rule of law in Russia. The IBAHRI reminds the Kremlin that failure to provide Mr Navalny with access to a lawyer is a contravention of Article 14(3)(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Principle 3 of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal in Criminal Justice Systems (Principles and Guidelines). It is a patent illustration of how the pillars of democratic legitimacy, or what remains of them, are perishing under the current regime.’
Mr Kirby added: ‘It is tragic but true that the near fatal poisoning of Mr Navalny with nerve agents had all the hallmarks of the actions of the Russian security apparatus dating back to Soviet days. By returning home to Russia, at obvious personal risk, Mr Navalny has valiantly advanced the day when the Russian Federation will ultimately fulfil its right to become a modern, functioning democratic state, with a law-abiding government and a vigilant opposition that both observe universal human rights and the rule of law.’
Mr Navalny was arrested on arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, on Sunday 17 January 2021, after disembarking from a flight from Germany. It was the first time he had returned to Russia since a suspected poisoning by Russian security forces in August 2020.
Prior to Mr Navalny’s arrival in the country, the Russian authorities alleged that the opposition leader had violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction by failing to appear at court hearings after his release from Berlin’s Charité hospital, where he had been receiving life-saving treatment following the poisoning.
Mr Navalny appeared in court on 18 January for the first time since being arrested. In a video published by Ms Yarmysh, Mr Navalny called the court hearing ‘lawlessness of the highest order’ and said a judge was reviewing a request from a police official to take him into custody. ‘What’s happening here is impossible,’ he stated. Ms Yarmysh said that the only journalists permitted to remain at the hearing were from pro-Kremlin outlets, such as Russia 1 and Lifenews.
Mr Navalny has been jailed frequently, harassed and was barred from running for President in 2018. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the arrests and detention of him from 2012 to 2014 violated his human rights and appeared to be part of a broader effort ‘to bring the opposition under control’. His bank accounts, as well as those of his family members, were seized by the Russian authorities in March 2020.
IBAHRI Co-Chair and immediate past Secretary-General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, commented: ‘The international condemnation that has followed the arrest and announcement of a 30-day detention of Mr Navalny, ahead of a parole review, should give Russia’s authorities reason to pause. Instead, the course of contravening legal instruments that the state has ratified continues with the violation of Article 5 (4)of the European Convention on Human Rights. The IBAHRI calls for Mr Navalny’s immediate release. Furthermore, we reiterate our call for an open, impartial and independent investigation into the poisoning of Mr Navalny in August 2020 and the assurance that any persons responsible are brought to justice.’
Notes to the Editor
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