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PACE President calls on Russia to revise ‘foreign agents’ law

“I have learned with great concern that the Nizhny Novgorod District Court yesterday rejected the appeal by the Russian NGO Committee against Torture (Komitet Protiv Pytok) against the decision to list it as a ‘foreign agent’ under NGO legislation,” said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). “As a result of this decision, it has been announced that this organisation may decide to dissolve.”

“The Committee against Torture is a prominent human rights NGO and laureate of the 2011 Assembly Human Rights Prize. Over the years this organisation has helped hundreds of Russian citizens to defend their legitimate rights and to seek justice. Its contribution to human rights action is widely recognised in Russia as well as internationally. It is unacceptable to see that such a valuable organisation is being forced to disappear,” said the President.

“The so-called ‘law on foreign agents’ raises several serious issues as regards respect for Council of Europe standards. As the Venice Commission clearly said in its legal opinion, this term stigmatises the non-governmental organisations to which it is applied, tarnishing their reputation and seriously hampering their activities. Therefore, I urge the Russian authorities to bring this NGO legislation into line with Council of Europe standards, so that the Committee against Torture, as well as other NGOs, can continue to work freely in Russia.”