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UN rights committee urges Russia to address hate speech

[JURIST] In a periodic report [text, PDF] published on Friday, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [official website] expressed concern about the racist speech used by politicians and neo-Nazi groups in Russia. According to the report, such speech often targets Central Asians, the Roma, migrants and people of African descent. While the report found that racist violence has decreased, it still remains a problem in sports. The UN also stated that the Russian police continues to profile ethnic minorities, and the Russian media still promotes racist stereotypes. The committee wrote, "Racist hate speech is still used by officials and politicians, especially during election campaigns, and remains unpunished." The committee recommended prosecuting hate speech by both neo-Nazi groups and politicians who use such speech in their campaigns. They also recommended having law enforcement officials undergo anti-racism training.

Russia's human rights and religious freedom record has been the subject of widespread international criticism. Last month the Russian Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] a ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses, following the initial ruling [JURIST report] in April. In February the Russian Supreme Court annulled the 2.5 year prison sentence of Ildar Dadin, who was the first person to be convicted under a relatively new anti-protest law [JURIST report]. Earlier in February the European Court of Human Rights ordered [JURIST report] Russia to pay more than 63,000 euros for arresting Alexander Navalny multiple times between March 2012 and February 2014. In January the US sanctioned [JURIST report] five Russian officials for human rights abuses in association with the death of a lawyer in prison. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced [JURIST report] in November that Russia would leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), expressing disdain over the ICC's investigation into potential human rights abuses by Russian forces in South Ossetia in 2008.

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