Week-ending 4 December 2020
Stichting Justice Initiative is an NGO that works to provide legal support to victims of human rights violations connected to armed conflict and counter-terrorism operations, torture and gender-based violence in the post-Soviet region, not least in the North Caucasus. It specialises in taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights. On Wednesday 2 December the executive director of the Stichting Justice Initiative, Vanessa Kogan, told Kommersant that the migration department of the Interior Ministry had cancelled her residency permit. Memorial Human Rights Centre published a statement signed by 20 human rights activists protesting the decision. Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Human Rights Watch, Front Line Defenders, International Partnership for Human Rights and Norwegian Helsinki Committee also published a joint statement in which they called on the Russian authorities to rescind the decision to cancel Vanessa Kogan’s residence permit and allow her to continue human rights work without fear of reprisal: “The undersigned organizations regard the expulsion of Kogan as retaliation for her sterling human rights work and urge the Russian authorities to immediately annul this decision. Justice Initiative Project is a group of legal entities and human rights lawyers based mainly in Russia dedicated to addressing impunity for grave human rights violations and gender-based violence in the post-Soviet region. In Russia, the group has worked extensively in the North Caucasus region, where victims of human rights violations have had no access to justice or reparations. Over the years, the group’s lawyers have provided legal aid to thousands of people seeking justice for human rights violations, including abductions and enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, torture, and gender-based violence. The organisation is one of the most active in Russia in bringing cases to the European Court of Human Rights, with over 250 judgements issued in favor of the complainants.”
From the website of Stichting Justice Initiative: SJI is dedicated to the legal protection of victims of human rights violations connected to armed conflict and counter-terrorism operations, torture and gender-based violence in the post-Soviet region. We strive to ensure that victims of such abuse have access to effective legal remedies on the domestic level, and utilize international mechanisms, including the European Court of Human Rights, when domestic remedies are inadequate. We use the judgments we obtain in order to restore victims’ rights and to push for systemic reform in law and policy. We build the capacity of legal professionals, NGOs, human rights defenders and other stakeholders through trainings, legal consultations, mutually beneficial partnerships and original research and publications on relevant human rights topics. We seek to raise greater public awareness about the protections afforded by international human rights standards and current gaps in national policy and practice, by sharing significant human rights case law, highlighting legacies of conflict, and contributing to ongoing dialogues about human rights protection for vulnerable groups.