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UN criticizes Russia for failing to investigate human rights abuses

The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) [official website] chastised Russia on Friday for intimidating journalists and human rights activists and ignoring allegations of torture. The CAT, a panel composed of 10 human rights experts, presented a report [AP report] on Friday that laid out a set of criticisms against Russia and urged Russia to take immediate action to prevent torture. The criticisms in the report include accusations that Russia has increased its harassment and intimidation of journalists, tortured prisoners, and cracked down on freedom of speech and expression. The report also declared that Russia has failed to comply [Al Jazeera report] with a 1987 treaty against torture and has denied many detainees access to legal counsel. The CAT has also called on Russia to prosecute individuals who have perpetrated torture and other human rights abuses.

Russia has been cracking down on political dissent recently. On Tuesday Russia's new NGO law went into effect [JURIST report]. The new law requires NGOs that are financed from abroad to register as "foreign agents," a move that critics have said is an attempt to discredit NGOs. Three weeks ago Russia implemented a new Internet regulation law [JURIST report] that gives the Russian government the ability to completely block access to certain websites. Earlier in November Russia's parliament passed a bill to increase the penalties for treason [JURIST report]. In October Russia freed one member of the controversial feminist rock collective Pussy Riot [RASPI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] but upheld prison sentences for the two other band members [JURIST report].

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