Published: 9 Dec 2016

EHRAC Bulletin Winter 2016

EHRAC Bulletin

In this issue of the Bulletin, we focus on two major issues arising in our target region and beyond: the quest for equal rights for minority and marginalised groups; and the weakening of protection for human rights.

This year, our Regional Seminar in Warsaw focused on combatting violence against women through litigation: given the widespread evidence of systemic violations of women’s rights and that many vulnerable women are at risk, strategic litigation can be used as a tool to seek individual redress and address legislative gaps. Anahit Simonyan (Human Rights Education Center, Yerevan) argues that governments’ failure to take adequate legislative and policy measures to address violence against women is tantamount to state-sponsored torture. A former EHRAC intern, Olga Grygorovska, summarises the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture’s 2016 report into discrimination against women, girls, and LGBTI persons, and the intersection of the issues these groups face.

LGBTI communities in the region often face degrading and inhuman treatment, both at the hands of state authorities and by the public more widely. Arpi Avetisyan (ILGA-Europe, Brussels) analyses why Armenia, Russia and Georgia scored so poorly in the 2016 Rainbow Europe country ranking – a comprehensive assessment of European states’ approach to LGBTI people through legislation and policy. This theme is picked up by Marina Agaltsova (Memorial HRC), who discusses Russia’s criminalisation of hate speech against particular social groups, a vague notion which fails to protect LGBTI and other groups from abuse. In a parallel article, lawyer Mariam Uberi suggests that Georgia’s legislation governing ‘incitement to hatred’ falls short of its international obligations, in particular with regards to protecting religious minorities and freedom of expression.

Also in this issue…

It is over three years since the beginning of the protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv and the subsequent armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Journalist Joyce Man argues that the lack of accountability and the weakness of rule of law in the Donbas region has led to impunity for gross human rights abuses including kidnappings, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment. In December 2015 the Russian Constitutional Court ruled that a decision from an international judicial body can be declared “impossible to implement”; Dario Rossi D’Ambrosio outlines the Venice Commission opinion on this decision, and its potential to undermine human rights protection in Russia.