Published: 19 Dec 2018

EHRAC Bulletin Winter 2018

EHRAC Bulletin

This is the 30th edition of the EHRAC Legal Bulletin, marking 15 years since its first publication. Throughout this time, we have aimed to provide timely, in-depth and engaging analysis of the latest legal developments in the former Soviet space, and from the European Court of Human Rights and Council of Europe. As a renewed commitment to this ambition, we are refreshing the Bulletin with a new online format, which we will distribute quarterly via our email mailing list. To receive the new-look Bulletin, please contact us, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here.

In recent years, the scandal of so-called ‘caviar diplomacy’ has rocked the Council of Europe (CoE), especially with regards to Azerbaijan using cash and gifts to curry favour in the Parliamentary Assembly. However, this issue is not limited to the CoE: Transparency International UK’s Steve Goodrich explores how corrupt and repressive regimes in Russia, Azerbaijan and Bahrain seek influence and legitimacy amongst UK politicians. This calls into question the legitimacy of decisions made by parliamentarians, which is particularly concerning at a time of allegations of covert foreign influence in western elections and collusion at the highest echelons of the political class.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not an issue often associated with the region in which we work, yet as a study by the Stichting Justice Initiative (SJI) has found, the practice is rife in Dagestan (Russia), particularly in the high mountain districts. In her summary of SJI’s 2018 report, Vanessa Kogan looks at the attitudes of men in areas where FGM is practised, and challenges the assumption that everyone in the local community supports FGM. We also hear from Olena Shevchenko, the Chair of Insight, a Ukrainian NGO providing holistic support to LGBTQI+ people. She explains the difficulties she has faced in the last year as one of the most high-profile activists on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in Ukraine, particularly following the International Women’s Day march in Kyiv on 8 March.

In August 2018, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report on Georgia’s zero-tolerance approach to drug consumption or possession, which has resulted in harsh punishments, with prison sentences for drug-related offences often significantly exceeding those for serious crimes. As Giorgi Gogia (HRW) explains, it is important to take note of the human costs of these policies, and consider that it is time for the authorities to decriminalise personal use and possession of drugs.