The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern about what it referred to as “grave human rights violations” committed by Russian military forces and private military companies in Ukraine.
Commissioner Mehrdad Payandeh expressed concern about grave human rights violations committed during the “ongoing armed conflict by the Russian Federation’s military forces and private military companies” against people protected under the convention.
“It was also severely disturbed by reports of incitement to racial hatred and propagation of racist stereotypes against ethnic Ukrainians, alleged forced mobilization and conscription, which have disproportionately affected ethnic minorities, including indigenous peoples,” said Payandeh.
He said the commission addressed the situation of children, the taking of children from specific territories to Russia, without addressing the timeframe or the numbers of children in any way.
The committee urged Russia to immediately end “forced mobilization” and conscription within its own country and on other territories under its effective control, while also providing compensation, victims’ rehabilitation, and guarantees of non-repetition.
It called upon Russia to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict with Ukraine and other armed conflicts in which it is or has been involved.
The committee also asked Russia to monitor and combat racist hate speech, racial hatred, and discrimination.
Russia was asked to review the law on combating extremist activities and relevant provisions of the criminal code in order to establish a precise definition of extremist activity in line with and in accordance with international human rights standards.
Legislation countering terrorism
“And to ensure that the legislative framework on countering extremism is not used to intimidate, arrest or prosecute journalists, human rights defenders, or civil society members, including those working on the rights of ethnic minorities, the Roma, indigenous peoples, and non-citizens,” said Payandeh.
The UN commissioner said Russia’s refusal to address the issues raised did not prevent them from addressing them in their concluding observations.
“But, of course, it made our work more difficult, and we would have liked to engage in a constructive dialogue,” he said.
According to the commission, racial discrimination remains a stumbling block to fully realizing human rights.
“In spite of progress in some areas, distinctions, exclusions, restrictions and preferences based on race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, continue to create and embitter conflict, and cause untold suffering and loss of life,” says the commission.
“Our mandate is not to address human rights issues in general, but only insofar as they amounted to racial discrimination,” Payandeh said.