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A St-Petersburg Judge did not Understand Which Sex Workers Rights are Violated by a Denial to Register an Association

Open Information Agency
The district court of the Oktiabrskii district of St-Petersburg set aside the appeal of the NGO’s leader, since it concluded that the appeal does not specify the rights that are violated by a denial to register the Non-commercial partnership of sex-workers and their allies for the protection of health, dignity and human rights “Sivler Rose”.

The judge Ekaterina Kalinina has attained this verdict on the appeal by Irina Maslova, the Director of the “Silver Rose”. This was announced by the Inter-regional Human Rights Association “Agora”, whose staff is representing the NGO’s interests in court.
- I think that the judge does not want to consider this case, this is why she is looking for excuses – says Alexei Glukhov, a lawyer. – Having applied for a registration of an NGO Maslova has demonstrated her desire to exercise a constitutional freedom to form public associations. It is clear that the rejection of her application violates her rights to do so. We are going to contest the judges’s definition.
In the meanwhile the judge Ecaterina Kalinina has set a deadline of September 11 for Irina Maslova to determine which rights and freedoms of hers were violated.
The Chief Office of the Ministry of Justice for St.-Petersburg has declined to register a non-for-profit partnership “Sivler Rose” in May 2013. The bureaucrats justified their decision by announcing that the articles of association violate the law: (1) the documents include propaganda that instigates social, racial, ethnic and religious hatred since “sex workers” are not included into the occupational classification of the Russian Federation; (2) the documents do not include any explanation of the term “sex worker” and therefore it is difficult to see the nature of the Silver Roses’ activity; (3) the authorities cannot perform a legal examination of the documents submitted for registration in the absence of such definition.
At the end of July Irina Maslova with the assistance of Association Agora has appealed to the district court of the Oktiabrskii district of St-Petersburg asking to rule illegal the decision of the Ministry of Justice. She also asked the court to redress the violation and to register the organization.
According to the Silver Rose’s Articles of Association the organization has the following main goals: 1) to facilitate charity, education, health, physical education and sports activities and to protect and defend the legal rights and interests of sex-workers and their allies; 2) to provide legal assistance to sex-workers and their allies, to increase the legal awareness of the general public; 3) to cultivate public intolerance towards corruption, etc.
To achieve these goals the organization carries out advocacy, research and publishing and cooperates with the state bodies and the media.
Human rights defendants point out that the registration of an organization is not conditional on the absence of “sex worker” from the occupational classification of the Russian Federation, such requirement is not envisioned by the federal law “On non-commercial organizations”
What is more, the Regional Office of the Ministry of Justice has already registered several organizations which have professions not included into the national occupational classification as part of their names (for example designer and realtor).
The terms “sex workers” or “commercial sex workers” are widely recognized and are mentioned in the official state documents (National report of the Russian Federation on the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS; Guidelines on disease control, Chief Public Health Physician’s resolution). Sex workers are recognized as a “vulnerable community” in need of assistance (medical, social, psychological, legal etc.) on the national and international levels.
The organization itself defines “sex worker” as “a person who on regular basis engages in sexual relations for money with different partners in order to enjoy his/her right for privacy” and estimates that there are at least 3 million sex workers in Russia.
None of the Silver Rose’s registration documents submitted to the Ministry of Justice has any hint that organization’s activity will be linked to managing prostitution, keeping brothels or renting out premises for sex workers to provide services.
Human right defendants believe, that the rejection of the Silver Rose’s application violates article 11 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (freedom of assembly and of associations).
The European Court on human rights has been repeatedly pointing out that: “Limiting this freedom can be justified only by persuasive and unequivocal factual evidence. It is the responsibility of the authority to determine, if such restrictions serve the public good.”
The Silver Rose’s Articles of Association repeat the statement that “Sivler Rose’s activity is going to comply with the current legislations of the Russian Federation” at least ten times. The refusal from the Ministry of Justice does not provide any proof that the organization is violating or is going to violate the law.