Russian Federation: Attacks on Independent Lawyers and Erosion of Justice should stop (UN Human Rights Council Statement)

Joint Oral Statement

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemn the widespread and escalating attacks on independent lawyers, including legal harassment, disciplinary actions, disbarments, and arbitrary criminal charges.

We deplore the abusive Foreign Agents Law, with its overbroad definition that covers any persons under “foreign influence”. The Law has been instrumentalized to violate the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and public participation. Lawyers are repeatedly labelled as “foreign agents”, for exercising their human rights and performing their legitimate duties, and many had their licenses suspended.

The Ministry of Justice has listed lawyers as “foreign agents” for lawfully representing human rights defenders, including lawyers Pavlov and Vetoshkina.

Russia’s Constitutional Court has abdicated its responsibility to protect rights by summarily dismissing challenges to legislative provisions criminalizing “public actions aimed at discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces.

We are concerned that the Bar Association intends to set up an Integrated Information System of the Bar of Russia, with the legal obligation for every lawyer to be part of this system, increasing risks of digital surveillance, breach of lawyer-client confidentiality and further harassment.

The repressive legislation in Russia leaves few domestic options to seek justice. It is imperative to maintain rigorous monitoring. We therefore urge this Council to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and ensure additional resources necessary to fulfil its role.

This statement was delivered by:

Francesca Restifo, Senior Human Rights Lawyer and UN Representative

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)

For further information please contact:

Francesca Restifo, IBAHRI,

Sandra Epal Ratjen, ICJ,








Attacks on Justice