CSO of the Week: Migration and Law Network

Week-ending 14 August 2020

The Migration and Law Network was set up in 1996 as a network of offices to provide legal advice to refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, labour migrants, internally displaced persons and those voluntarily moving from place to place within Russia. The Network was created as a programme of the Memorial Human Rights Centre. At present, the Network operates in 37 regions of Russia. Since its foundation, the Network has been led by human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina.

The Migration and Law Network has played a key role during the Covid-19 crisis seeking to alleviate the additional problems faced by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants during the pandemic. The organisation has also sought to improve government policy in this area. One positive development has been the presidential decree introducing a moratorium on decisions concerning expulsions and deportations from Russia. At the end of July this year, Svetlana Gannushkina published an article in Advokatskaya gazeta describing the situation. In part, she wrote:

Svetlana Gannushkina

“Russia’s borders have been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, like those of many other countries. In various regions across Russia, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have been left in a state of uncertainty. Most of them have lost their work, and along with it their ability to help their families back in their home countries – and even their ability to provide for themselves. Those in the worst situation are migrants (foreigners and stateless persons) in Centres for the Temporary Detention of Foreign Citizens (CTDFC). In Moscow and St. Petersburg, these centres were overcrowded when the pandemic broke out. In Krasnoye Selo, in Leningrad region, a CTDFC designed to hold 365 people was holding 445 when the borders closed. In St. Petersburg, due to self-isolation regulations, applications for release from the CTDFC that were filed in the second half of March were not considered until the beginning of June.”

Rights in Russia has translated the article. You can read it in full here:

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