Russian Federation - Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women - Domestic Violence - June 2020

The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a Suggested List of Issues on the ”foreign agent” law and domestic violence in Russia for the 78th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

The Russian Federation’s foreign agent law limits space for civil society, including women’s organizations. The State Party continues to suppress of the work of civil society, including women’s rights organizations, through broad “foreign agents” registration requirements. Although the Russian Constitution provides for freedom of association, the State Party continues to use the foreign agents law to harass, stigmatize, and even halt the operation of NGOs that engage in purported political activity. Women’s organizations, such as NGOs serving victims of domestic violence, are among the NGOs the government has listed as foreign agents.

Domestic violence and other forms of violence against women remain a serious problem in the Russian Federation. A 2016 law elevating domestic violence to public prosecution status obligated police and prosecutors to pursue a case after just one complaint. In 2017, however, the State Party decriminalized first offenses of domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence face not only the barriers of inadequate legislation, but also poor police response and insufficient victim resources. Moreover, The Russian Federation has not effectively responded to the uptick in domestic violence cases during the coronavirus pandemic, putting victims of domestic violence in further danger. 

The authors of the report of the list of issues suggest the following questions for the Government of Russia:

  • What measures has the State Party taken to either repeal or amend the Foreign Agents Law and Undesirables Law in accordance with recommendations from the Committee and other international stakeholders? 
  • What steps has the State Party taken to reduce the fine for non-compliance with the Foreign Agents Law?  
  • How does the State Party ensure that the Undesirables Law does not restrict access to information from non-Russian sources on human rights issues? 
  • What was the justification for the State Party’s decision to decriminalize first instances of domestic violence? What measures is the State Party taking to criminalize the first instance of domestic violence, and when will it adopt those measures? 
  • What efforts is the State Party undertaking to enact a domestic violence law that makes domestic violence a stand-alone offense, to be enforced with arrest, and if appropriate, a sentence of jail time that is commensurate with other violent crimes? What procedures are in place to ensure that the public has the opportunity to provide substantive comments on any such draft law prior to adoption? 
  • What steps, if any, has the State Party taken to prioritize the safety of domestic violence victims during the coronavirus pandemic?