Human Rights Council 51st session Netherlands General Comment during adoption of draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation.

General Comment delivered by Ambassador H.E. Paul Bekkers, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Item 1  - General Comment on draft resolution L.13 ‘Situation of human rights in the Russian Federation’ at 51th Session of UN Human Rights Council

October 7, 2022 – Geneva, Switzerland 

Mr President,

270, this is the number of days between when Dmitry Muratov, Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta received the Nobel Peace Prize for his courageous fight to safeguard freedom of expression in Russia, and the day the media license of Novaya Gazetta was revoked. Thereby, silencing what many saw as one of the last independent media voices in the country.

But this is only one of the more recent examples of how the Russian authorities over the past decade have increased their repression against journalists, media workers, and their citizens.

26 journalists have been killed in the last 20 years, 24 are currently serving jail sentences of up to 22 years, and over 20 media outlets have been forced to stop operating. Those are the facts. The space for freedom of opinion and expression in Russia continues to shrink and with it the enjoyment of many other human rights.

No fewer than 12 Special Procedure mandate holders have condemned the continued and heightened crackdown on civil society groups, human rights defenders and media outlets by Russian authorities and have urged the authorities to halt these repressive acts.

The resolution in front of us calls on the Russian authorities to fulfill their duty and uphold fundamental freedoms. It seeks to establish a Special Rapporteur, who can monitor and report on the situation to this Council. But this mandate will also function as a crucial beacon of hope for Russian civil society, human rights defenders, and independent journalists. Showing them that the international community is not leaving them behind. In this light, we would also like to congratulate the Russian human rights organization Memorial, for being one of the three Nobel Peace Prize winners for this year.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a committed member of the core group on this important initiative. We call on all members of the Council to support this draft resolution and to ensure that this Body fulfills its mandate to ‘address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systemic violations’ as set out in GA resolution 60/251, demonstrating that no country is above scrutiny.

Thank you Mr President