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Vanessa Kogan

HRD, Executive Director
Justice Initiative Project

Vanessa Kogan is Executive Cirector of Stichting Justice Initiative, 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. Many of those judgements, such as those concerning enforced disappearances and domestic violence, have set important precedent for the whole region. Justice Initiative Project has always been open and transparent about its work.


The environment for the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Russian Federation is difficult, especially for those who defend and promote the rights of LGBTI people, ethnic and religious minorities, refugees, as well as activists of the North Caucasus and the unlawfully annexed Crimean Peninsula. HRDs are often subjected to acts of harassment, surveillance, physical attacks, threat, raids and searches on their offices and homes, slander and smear campaigns, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment, as well as violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. There have also been cases where HRDs have been murdered as a result of their work.