Russian Federation - Human Rights Committee - Domestic Violence - June 2020

On June 1, 2020, the Advocates for Human Rights submitted a report for the 129th Session of the Human Rights Committee regarding domestic violence, other forms of violence against women, the right to free speech and dissenting political opinions, and “foreign agent” laws in the Russian Federation.

It is estimated that domestic violence affects approximately 40,000 and kills at least 12,000 women each year in Russia. Despite these numbers, the Russian government has failed to take effective measures to combat its prevalence. On the contrary, the Russian government has actively taken steps to remove domestic violence from its legislation; in 2017, first time domestic assaults were decriminalized. As a result, many instances of domestic violence are undocumented at the federal level. There is also a lack of adequate support for victims of domestic violence. Restraining orders are not available, and there are only a very limited number of shelters for victims (22 in 2015). These are all located in large cities, leaving women in rural areas particularly vulnerable. Victims who attempt to defend themselves are often charged with murder.

The report further highlights the stringent regulations on free speech and political dissent among Russian citizens. Dissent is often punishable by monetary fines. International NGOs are also the target of state oppression in the form of “foreign” agent laws. According to these laws, any organization or individual who receives foreign funding and is involved in politics must classify themselves as a foreign agent. Failure to do so results in large fines.

The Advocates provides a list of suggested questions to be posed to the government of the Russian Federation. Suggestions include:

  • What was the justification for the State Party’s decision to decriminalize decriminalizing 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?
  • How many shelter beds or positions are currently available to victims of domestic violence? What steps is the State party taking to increase the number of shelters in both rural areas and cities to meet the Council of Europe’s recommended provision of 1 bed per 10,000 citizens?
  • How does the State Party ensure that enforcement of recent efforts to control and monitor the flow of internet traffic is consistent with its obligations under the Covenant to protect the rights to privacy of correspondence, and to freedom of ideas and expression?
  • What steps has the State Party taken to reduce the fine for non-compliance with the Foreign Agents Law?