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July 8, 2016

Administrative charges against human rights organisation Man and Law

On 11 July 2016, the administrative case against human rights organisation, Man and Law will be heard at the Yoshkar-Ola City Court, in the Republic of Mari El.

On 11 July 2016, the administrative case against human rights organisation, Man and Law will be heard at the Yoshkar-Ola City Court, in the Republic of Mari El.

The inter-regional public organisation “Man and Law” is involved in the protection of the rights of the child, in monitoring places of detention and in conducting investigations into human rights violations committed by government authorities, including law-enforcement agencies. The organisation also provides legal and psychological assistance to victims of torture as well as of inhuman and degrading treatment. Mr Sergey Poduzov is the Co-chairman of Man and Law.

On 11 July 2016, the Yoshkar-Ola City Court will begin the examination of the administrative case that has been opened against Man and Law by the Department of the Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) in the Republic of Mari El. The human rights organisation has been charged under Article 19.34, Paragraph 2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation entitled, 'Violation of the operation of a non-governmental organisation functioning in the capacity of a foreign agent'. In particular, the Department of Roskomnadzor in Mari El has accused Sergey Poduzov of having published an article in his personal blog «7×7» on 4 May 2016 without indicating that he works in a non-governmental organisation that is listed as a 'foreign agent'.

According to Article 24, Paragraph 1 of the Federal Law No7-FZ “On Non-Commercial Organisations”, all publications of a non-governmental organisation that is listed as a 'foreign agent' have to contain an indication of the 'foreign agent' status of the organisation. In the case of Man and Law, however, the article was written by Sergey Poduzov in his personal capacity and shared with the readers of his personal blog. If the Yoshkar-Ola City Court finds that the actions of the human rights defender constitute an administrative offence, Man and Law could be fined up to 6 670 Euros. This, in its turn, could push the human rights organisation to the verge of closure as it does not have the capacity to pay a fine of this amount.

In 2015, Man and Law paid a fine of 4 000 Euros after the Justice of the Peace of Section 10 of Yoshkar-Ola judicial district had found on 30 December 2014 the human rights organisation guilty of committing an offence envisaged by Article 19.34, Paragraph 1 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation. In particular, Man and Law was found guilty of failing to register as a 'foreign agent', as is mandatory under the Federal Law No121-FZ, “On Introducing Changes to Certain Pieces of Legislation of the Russian Federation as Regards Regulation of Activities of Non-Commercial Organisations Performing the Functions of Foreign Agents”, known as 'Foreign Agents' law.

Front Line Defenders condemns the administrative charges against Man and Law, as it believes that they are directly linked to the organisation's peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Russia. Front Line Defenders reiterates its concern for the enactment of the "Foreign Agents law" and the significant negative impact that this law has on the work of human rights defenders in Russia.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Russia to:

1. Immediately drop administrative charges against the human rights organisation Man and Law, as Front Line Defenders believes that it has been targeted solely as a result of its legitimate work in defence of human rights in Russia;

2. Repeal the Federal Law No121-FZ, “On Introducing Changes to Certain Pieces of Legislation of the Russian Federation as Regards Regulation of Activities of Non-Commercial Organisations Performing the Functions of Foreign Agents”;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Russia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions. 

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