Russia: UN human rights office ‘appalled’ at death of Navalny in prison

© Evgeny Feldman Alexei Navalny appears in court in Moscow on 20 February 2021.

United Nations, 16 February 2024

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) on Friday said it was “appalled” over the death announced by Russian authorities of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison, calling for an impartial and transparent independent investigation.

Mr. Navalny, 47, had lost consciousness and could not be revived, according to media reports.

“If someone dies in the custody of the State, the presumption is that the State is responsible – a responsibility that can only be rebutted through an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body,” said OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell, calling on Russia “to ensure such a credible investigation is carried out”.

Unsplash/Liza Pooor A demonstration in support of Alexsei Navalny in London, UK.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Edwards said that several UN independent experts, including herself, privately and publicly urged the Russian Government to end the punitive conditions in which Mr. Navalny was held.

She said they had called for an investigation into credible allegations of torture against Mr. Navalny and told the authorities of the essential need for him to receive medical treatment, especially following his alleged poisoning in 2020, she said.

“That our appeals to the Kremlin were ignored so blatantly and with such disregard for human life is a tragedy for Mr. Navalny, his family and supporters,” she said. “It is also a bleak day for the rule of law, free expression and human rights.”

Since the early 2000s, he has been a vocal anti-corruption activist and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, leading protests and garnering support.

In 2020, Mr. Navalny was hospitalized for injuries sustained from a poisoning that involved Novichok, a nerve agent developed by Russia during the cold war.

The media reported that on Thursday, Mr. Navalny had appeared in court via video. News reports also noted that Mr. Navalny’s spokesperson was asking for confirmation and further details of his death.

The UN Secretary-General is “shocked by the reported death”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said at the Noon Briefing in New York.

“The Secretary-General calls for a full, credible and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Navalny’s reported death in custody,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Special Rapporteurs and other rights experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, are mandated to monitor and report on specific thematic issues or country situations, are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work.

The original article appeared here.

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