High Commissioner representative addressed the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

03 August 2017

On August 31, at the 93rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva the representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Olga Goncharenko informed the audience that the federal ombudsman continually monitors manifestations of racial discrimination in any area of public life.

"For the period from January 2012 to July 2017 the High Commissioner together with the staff of her Office have examined more than 140,000 complaints. The number of appeals is growing from year to year. In particular, in 2016 42.5 thousand applications were registered, which is 1.5 times more than in 2015. For half of this year — nearly 23 thousand already," Olga Goncharenko said.

"Such dynamics demonstrate that people trust the High Commissioner Institute and actively use this non-judicial mechanism for the protection of human rights," the employee of the High Commissioner’s Office stressed.

The representative of the ombudsman also reported that the Office of the High Commissioner received about 200 complaints related to racial discrimination and intolerance. "All the applications are carefully checked and appropriate measures are taken. The High Commissioner also responds to reports coming from various NGOs and structures, including international ones."

Monitoring information on possible manifestations of racial discrimination, including by regional Commissioners for Human Rights, reinforces the conclusions that, on the whole, there is a stable situation in the sphere of interethnic relations, a tendency to reduce xenophobic and racial intolerance incidents.

"Such a situation seems to be evidence of the effectiveness of measures taken by the authorities to strengthen tolerance and mutual respect between peoples and ethnic groups," the employee of the High Commissioner’s Office added.

According to the High Commissioner’s representative, an important element in ensuring interethnic peace and harmony is the right to preserve and develop their language, culture and identity by representatives of all the peoples of Russia.

"The High Commissioner pays constant attention to this problematic, actively interacts with various public organizations and ethno-cultural associations, facilitates the receipt of grants for the implementation of human rights projects by NGOs," Olga Goncharenko said.

The representative of the Ombudsman paid special attention to the observance of human rights in the Republic of Crimea. "In 2016, the High Commissioner visited the Republic of Crimea in order to check alleged violations of the rights of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in the Crimea, including those being in detention facilities. However, no breaches of the current law were found," she said.

"The High Commissioner held a personal reception of more than 100 citizens in Simferopol and Sebastopol, meetings with representatives of human rights organizations and with three groups of Crimean-Tatar public, including those who were oppositional. She visited some objects of social infrastructure, got acquainted with the conditions of detention of defendants and suspects in detention facilities," the employee of the ombudsman’s Office added.

Olga Goncharenko also noted that the establishment of the requisite number of educational institutions, classes, groups and the creation of environment for their activities ensure the rights of minor citizens of the Republic of Crimea to receive preschool, primary and basic general education in their mother tongue, and the right to study their native languages. Moreover, since April 2014 in Crimea, Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar have been established as state languages.

One of the priority areas of work to prevent intolerance and discrimination on the ground of nationality is the protection of the rights of migrants. "Russia is one of the top three countries in the world for receiving migrants and refugees. The federal and regional Commissioners conduct reception of migrants and consider their appeals. Only in 2016 the High Commissioner received 1,828 individual and collective citizens’ complaints against violations of rights and freedoms in the area of migration," Olga Goncharenko said.

The representative of the High Commissioner also noted the personal contribution of Russian federal ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova to the fight against racial discrimination. In particular, the High Commissioner conducts active educational work, lectures and seminars, participates in the work of youth forums, speaks in the media, publishes printed matters.

In addition, special attention is paid to the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and their access to natural resources. In three constituent entities, special posts of regional Commissioners for the rights of indigenous peoples have been established. If necessary, the High Commissioner undertakes in situ visits to verify the corresponding complaints. In 2015, the High Commissioner personally traveled to the Kemerovo Region to settle issues of compensation for housing to residents of the Shor settlement.

"The High Commissioner, promoting the realization of rights and freedoms in the Russian Federation, proceeds from the need for responsible use of rights by each individual, respect for the rights of other citizens, and also from the understanding that, in accordance with Art. 4 of the Convention, States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form," the High Commissioner’s representative said.

Concluding her speech, Olga Goncharenko noted that the High Commissioner will continue to monitor problems related to racial discrimination, provide full support and use the full range of her powers to protect the rights and freedoms of man and the citizen.

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