GENEVA – The UN’s acting human rights head condemned on Monday the “intimidation” of Russians who oppose the Ukraine war, warning that it was weakening fundamental freedoms.
In a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, deputy UN human rights chief Nada Al Nashif condemned “intimidation, restrictive measures, and penalties against those voicing opposition to the war in Ukraine.”
She warned that such acts “undermine the enjoyment of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to free assembly, expression, and association.”
Al Nashif, who is serving as acting High Commissioner for Human Rights until Volker Turk takes over for Michelle Bachelet, also condemned “pressure on journalists, blockage of Internet resources, and other types of censorship.”
According to her, these measures are “incompatible with media pluralism and undermine the right to information.”
“We urge the Russian Federation to reconsider measures taken to broaden the ‘foreign agent’ label to include those deemed ‘under foreign influence,'” she said.
She also urged the Kremlin not to criminalize “undeclared communications with representatives of nations, foreign or international organizations believed to be oriented against the Russian Federation’s’security.'”
Al Nashif’s remarks came at the start of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council, which will remain through October 7.
Earlier this year, the council directed a high-level investigation of Russian troop abuses in Ukraine since its full-scale invasion on February 24.
However, there has been increasing pressure on the council to focus on human rights violations within Russia.
Human rights organizations have encouraged European Union countries to take the lead in drafting a resolution to appoint an independent expert known as a Special Rapporteur to investigate the issue.
However, no decision has been made, with Western countries concerned about the consequences of presenting a resolution but failing to gain enough votes to pass it in the 47-member council.