UN Rights Chief Disturbed by Rising Journalist Crackdown in Russia


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Tuesday said he was concerned by the increasing number of journalists charged, convicted and jailed in Russia for their independent reporting, in what appears to be an intensification of a crackdown on dissenting voices.

"The continuous attacks on free speech and the criminalization of independent journalism in Russia are very troubling," said Türk.

"The intensification of the crackdown on journalists' independent work must immediately cease and the right to inform - a key component of the right to freedom of expression - needs to be upheld," he added.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the number of imprisoned journalists in Russia has reached an all-time high.

At least 30 journalists are currently detained in Russia under a variety of criminal charges, including terrorism, extremism, disseminating knowingly false information about the armed forces, spying, treason, extortion, infringing upon people's rights, violating the provisions of the law on foreign agents, inciting mass disturbances, illegal possession of explosives, and illegal possession of drugs. Out of the 30 reporters deprived of liberty, 12 are serving prison sentences ranging from five-and-a-half to 22 years in prison.

Since March, at least seven journalists have faced administrative or criminal charges, particularly for criticism of Russia's actions in Ukraine or for alleged links to the late opposition politician Alexey Navalny, and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which was labelled as 'extremist' in 2021.

"The Russian authorities appear to be attempting to further strengthen control of the narrative, both around domestic issues and the conduct of hostilities in Ukraine. As a result, people in Russia have increasingly restricted access to non-State information and viewpoints, which hampers their ability to benefit from diverse sources and make fully informed decisions on matters of vital public interest," said the UN Human Rights Chief.

"I am also concerned about the frequent use of the broad legislative framework to combat terrorism and extremism," said the High Commissioner, calling on the authorities to amend the legislation to comply fully with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality under international human rights law.

"Journalists should be able to work in a safe environment without fear of reprisals - in line with Russia's international human rights obligations. I call on the authorities to immediately drop charges against journalists detained solely for doing their jobs, and to release them," Türk said.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.