RIGA - Russia poses the biggest threat to human rights in Europe, a top diplomat has said to an assembled group of students on Oct. 10.
Niels Muiznieks, the Council for Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, told students in Riga yesterday evening that Russia contributed the most cases of human rights abuses, including Lesbian and Gay Rights (LGBT) among other issues.
He added that a new report on the administration of justice in Russia was set to be released soon.
Speaking about the issue of LGBT rights, Muiznieks said: “The most active challenge comes from Russia.”
“It actively tries to challenge articles of legislation… that it’s protecting children [with its LGBT attacks]. What’s interesting when confronted with case law is that it has no effect on children.”
“Russia will protest a little, but if we keep referring to a law they’ll stop. Russia does take the court quite seriously,” said the commissioner.
Referring to recent mayoral elections in Moscow, Muiznieks said he was able to back a Russian NGO taken to court. After the NGO showed some research about abuses against NGO’s, it was then able to monitor the elections.
Using the power of social media has also been effective in pressuring governments to live up to human rights standards, the U.S.-born human rights chief said.
Other areas of intervention include police harassment, minority rights and media freedom.
Mulznieks is set to meet with Latvian officials after the parliamentary elections. He refused to comment on which issues would be raised at the meeting, but later said he would stand up for the issue of stateless children.
Current legislation in Latvia grants special status to 304,000 non-citizens, while Estonia has some 92,000 aliens or persons of undetermined citizenship. Among them, at the end of 2011, were about 1,500 stateless children under the age of 15 in Estonia, and approximately 9,000 in Latvia.
“While parents have the right to register these children as citizens, many do not, because they are unaware of this opportunity or are so alienated that they opt to leave their children stateless. The Estonian and Latvian governments have allowed this situation to persist, permitting parents to choose a status that is not in the best interests of the child,” Muiznieks was quoted as saying earlier this year.