Estonian Human Rights Centre: Lavrov’s criticism missed the target

Estonian Human Rights Centre estimates that the criticism of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, expressed at UN Human Rights Council session, fails to contribute in any way to improving the situation of human rights in Estonia, but draws attention away from Russia’s own serious violations instead.

“Minister Lavrov’s sincerity in ensuring human rights is illustrated by Russia’s attitude towards the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights made about them. Already in 1996, Russia has signed the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its related protocols. However, it was found last year that the Russian Constitutional Court has the right to decide on the implementation of the commitments made,” explains Egert Rünne, the acting head of the Estonian Human Rights Centre.

“Human Rights Watch’s annual reports accuse Russia of a large number of human rights violations that have only worsened over the years. Instead of ensuring human rights, the country is dealing with suppression of civil society and the systematic silencing of the media, the Internet, and the opposition. HRW World Report in 2016 indicates further significant breaches concerning suppression of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, women and the LGBT.”

“Both the Human Rights Centre’s annual report as well as the HRW report say that Estonia has, despite some problems, done well in securing the human rights of the country’s population. Of course, the government should take the guaranteeing of human rights and the fight against intolerance more seriously while investing more in these fields,” Rünne adds.

Estonian Human Rights Centre is convinced that the protection of human rights is first and foremost important to improve the living standards and secure the future of the population, not to earn the likes of Russia, the US or the European Union.

“The surest guarantee for the protection of human rights is the existence of an independent civil society. Estonia already has a strong civil society, but in Russia it is impossible according to international reports. It is possible to support the activities of the Estonian Human Rights Centre through the donation portal anneta.humanrights.ee,” Rünne concludes.

At the 31st UN Human Rights Council session, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticised the human rights situation in the Baltic countries, accusing the countries of supporting the re-emergence of neo-Nazism and reluctance to deal with the problem of a large number of stateless persons.

Human Rights World Report 2016: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016
Human Rights in Estonia 2014 – 2015 : https://humanrights.ee/en/annual-human-rights-report/human-rights-estonia-2014-2015/