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U.N. rights boss decries clampdown, arrests of anti-war protesters in Russia

Randy Mancini 5 Mar 8
Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights attends the special session on the situation in Ukraine of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

March 8, 2022

GENEVA (Reuters) – The ability to criticise public policy in Russia, particularly its invasion of Ukraine, is narrowing, with some 12,700 people unlawfully detained in anti-war protests, the top U.N. human rights official Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday.

“I remain concerned about the use of repressive legislation that impedes the exercise of civil and political rights and criminalising non-violent behaviour,” Bachelet told the Human RIghts Council in Geneva, speaking by video message.

She said that ‘vague and overly broad definitions’ of extremism and incitement to hatred in Russia had led to legal interpretations that were not in line with its human rights obligations. “Further legislation criminalising circumstances of ‘discrediting’ the armed forces continues down this concerning path,” she added.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans)