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Russia: UN Experts Say Navalny In “Serious Danger”, Call For Medical Evacuation


GENEVA (21 April 2021) – UN human rights experts* today
expressed alarm at the deteriorating health situation of
detained Russian Government critic Alexei Navalny, and
called for his urgent medical evacuation from
Russia.

“We believe Mr. Navalny’s life is in
serious danger,” said the independent experts appointed by
the Human Rights Council. He has been incarcerated under
harsh conditions in a high security penal colony and denied
access to adequate medical care. Despite having recently
been transferred to a hospital, doctors of his own choosing
have not been allowed to visit him.

“We are deeply
troubled that Mr. Navalny is being kept in conditions that
could amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment in a facility that reportedly does
not meet international standards.

“Under
international human rights law, when detaining a person,
irrespective of the reason for the detention, the State
bears full responsibility to care for his life and bodily
integrity. Due to this heightened duty of care, the
Government of the Russian Federation must take all necessary
measures to protect Mr. Navalny’s physical and mental
health and well-being.

“We are extremely concerned
that the current danger to Mr Navalny’s life, his most
recent incarceration and the past attacks on him, including
an attempt against his life last August with the nerve agent
Novichok, which the Russian authorities have yet to
effectively investigate, are all part of a deliberate
pattern of retaliation against him for his criticism of the
Russian Government and a gross violation of his human
rights.”

Mr. Navalny was arrested and placed in
detention in January 2021 immediately upon his return to
Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months
recovering from a serious attempt on his life. In February
2021, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for
alleged parole violations while he was abroad for medical
treatment, and sent to a high security penal colony in
Pokrov. In early March, there were reports of a sharp
deterioration of his health. According to information
received by the experts, after the prison authorities failed
to provide him with adequate medical care or allow his own
physicians to visit him, on 31 March Mr. Navalny began a
hunger strike in protest. After reports emerged that he was
at imminent risk of irreversible renal damage and possible
cardiac arrest, on 19 April he was transferred to a hospital
but still does not have access to medical experts of his own
choice.

“As we have previously noted, in light of
the rulings and interim measures of the European Court of
Human Rights there is no valid legal basis for Mr.
Navalny’s arrest, trial and imprisonment in Pokrov,” the
experts said.

“The apparent violations of the
prohibition of torture or other ill-treatment, his right to
counsel, and most notably his right to prompt and effective
medical care while in detention only deepen our already
profound concerns about Mr. Navalny’s life and
safety.

“We urge the Russian authorities to ensure
Mr. Navalny has access to his own doctors and to allow him
to be evacuated for urgent medical treatment abroad, as they
did in August 2020. We reiterate that the Russian Government
is accountable for Mr. Navalny’s life and health while he
is in detention.”

The UN experts have communicated
their concerns to the Russian Government, including through
two official letters sent in August
and December
2020 in which they raised concerns about Mr. Navalny’s
Novichok poisoning.

ENDS

*The
experts:
Ms. Irene
Khan
, Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression
;
Mr. Nils Melzer,
Special
Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment
; Mr. Morris
Tidball-Binz
,
Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions

Ms. Tlaleng
Mofokeng,
Special Rapporteur on the right to
physical and mental
health.

© Scoop Media

 



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