Andrey Rylkov Foundation
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Anya Sarang’s speech at 113 Session of the UN Human Rights Committee

Yesterday in Geneva within its 113 Session the UN Human Rights Committee considered State reports of a number of countries on the implementation of their obligations in accordance with the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. On of the reports considered was of Russian Federation.

The representatives of non-government organizations which submitted their Shadow Report to the UN Human Rights Committee in relation to the review of State Periodic Reports were also invited to participate in this session and had a chance to present their position to the Committee members

President of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation Anya Sarang took part in this session. Her speech you may find below.

Andrey Rylkov Foundation submitted a Shadow Report to the UN Human Rights Committee in relation to the review of the 7th Periodic Report of the Russian Federation in August 2014. The report was submitted together with Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. The Shadow Report was highlighting systematica violations by Russian Federation of many of the rights and freedoms of people who use drugs.

On 05.08.2014 the UN Human Rights Committee published a List of Issues in relation to the 7th periodic report of Russian Federation. Russia had time to response to the Committee till March 2015. 

Russia provided the Committee with its responses in December 2014.  In February 2015 the Andrey Rylkov Foundation provided the Committee with its observations with regard to December responses of Russia on the List of Issues.

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Good morning,

I speak on behalf of NGOs, experts, and activists of the Russian public mechanism for monitoring of drug policy reform.

Russia’s exceptionally repressive approach to illicit drugs heavily focuses on policing and incarceration. While less and less consideration is given to human rights of all citizens, drug users are the most stigmatized, demonized and defenceless group who have to struggle to even be considered human beings. Their vulnerability is amplified by the state-promoted stigma, which morally “justifies” violations and unleashes law enforcement to arbitrary arrest and torture drug users.

Due to the legal ban on internationally recognized opioid substitution treatment with methadone and buprenorphine people with drug dependency systematically suffer withdrawal syndrome in detention.

When Dmitry Polushkin asked for medical help for his withdrawal syndrome in detention, police sprayed tear gas into his camera. When his condition became critical, police called the ambulance. But doctors only gave him scornful smiles and said “we cannot cook narcotics for you”.

Vasiliy Keller committed suicide on withdrawal during arrest as he dreaded pre-trial detention where no medical assistance he knew was available.

Police denied any medical assistance or even access to the toilet to Ivan Anoshkin who suffered from opioid withdrawal in order to coerce him into confession.

Police fabricated drug case against a civil activist Denis Matveev was deemed unlawful by the UN Working group on arbitrary detention, but the authorities refused to reconsider the case.

As it is very easy for police to fabricate drug cases, they are commonly used as a tool for political repressions such as in the case of a political activist Taisiya Osipova.

These are typical examples of systemic violations under the guise of drug control.

We have submitted a Shadow report and comments to Russia’s response to the list of issues and we hope that the Committee will issue strong recommendations to bring Russian drug laws and practices in line with the Covenant.



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