UN experts call for Navalny's urgent medical evacuation

Jailed Russian opposition figure’s life in 'serious danger,' experts say

2021-04-21 20:38:49


A group of UN human rights experts on Wednesday called for urgent medical evacuation of imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, saying his life is in “serious danger.”

"We urge the Russian authorities to ensure Mr. Navalny has access to his own doctors and to allow him to be evacuated for urgent medical treatment abroad, as they did in August 2020," said the independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.

The experts said Navalny has been incarcerated under harsh conditions in a high-security penal colony and denied access to adequate medical care.

"We are deeply troubled that Mr. Navalny is being kept in conditions that could amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in a facility that reportedly does not meet international standards," said the UN special rapporteurs.

'State's responsibility'

"Under international human rights law, when detaining a person, irrespective of the reason for the detention, the State bears full responsibility to care for his life and bodily integrity," the experts said.

"We are extremely concerned that the current danger to Mr. Navalny's life, his most recent incarceration, and the past attacks on him, including an attempt against his life last August with the nerve agent Novichok," they said.

They noted that the Russian authorities have yet to effectively investigate the Novichok attack, which they said: "are all part of a deliberate pattern of retaliation against him for his criticism of the Russian Government and a gross violation of his human rights."

Navalny was arrested and placed in detention in January 2021, immediately on his return to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a serious attempt on his life.

In February, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for alleged parole violations while he was abroad for medical treatment and sent to a high-security penal colony in Pokrov.

In early March, there were reports of a sharp deterioration of his health.

According to information received by the experts, after the prison authorities failed to provide him with adequate medical care or allow his physicians to visit him, on March 31, Navalny began a hunger strike in protest.

After reports emerged that he was at imminent risk of irreversible renal damage and possible cardiac arrest, on April 19, he was transferred to a hospital but still does not have access to medical experts of his own choice.

"As we have previously noted, in light of the rulings and interim measures of the European Court of Human Rights, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Navalny's arrest, trial, and imprisonment in Pokrov," the experts said.

"The apparent violations of the prohibition of torture or other ill-treatment, his right to counsel, and most notably his right to prompt and effective medical care while in detention only deepen our already profound concerns about Mr. Navalny's life and safety," they added.