Site Archive‎ > ‎Freedom of association‎ > ‎NGOs‎ > ‎

Rights Defenders from Mari El celebrate 13 years of Individual and the Law

23 November 2012 

Source: (info)
The NGO Individual and the Law, located in the Republic of Mari El, is celebrating its 13th year. One more year has gone by and the human rights organization has achieved a number of positive results. The main priorities of Individual and the Law are the protection of children’s rights, the observance of human rights by law enforcement agencies and in the penitentiary system, and the protection of the rights of civic activists. 

Individual and the Law has been working to protect human rights in the Republic of Mari El Republic for 13 years. It has also provided free legal aid to those living in the Republic. The organization’s aim is to stop abuses of power by the authorities. A range of methods is used to this end, including: legal actions, public events and campaigns, and human rights education.

This year a major interregional educational project has been launched called School of Human Rights for the Authorities, which has reached 12 regions of Russia. More than 600 officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Penitentiary Service, teachers and representatives of NGOs took part in the human rights workshops. More than 250 residents from Yoshkar-Ola and more than 50 residents from various regions of the Mari El Republic came to the organization’s legal clinic for advice and assistance. Individual and the Law provides free assistance on any civil rights protection issues to those who are themselves ready to take action in support of their rights, with the support of professional lawyers.

This current year the chair of Individual and the Law, Irina Protasova, has become a member of the Public Advisory Council of the Children’s Rights Commissioner of the President of the Russian Federation, and co-chair of the organization, Sergei Poduzov, has been appointed advisor on strategic litigation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia. A staff member of Individual and the Law, Liubov Sergeeva, took part in the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In addition, during the year two lawyers from the Republic of Kyrgyzstan held month-long internships at Individual and the Law

Active cooperation with the Federal Penitentiary Service in the Republic of Mari El continues. Human rights defenders run a Literary Club at the Republic’s correction facilities in the framework of the responsibilities of the Public Advisory Council. On the initiative of the Federal Penitentiary Service, organization staff have run a series of educational lectures and seminars for prison officers. Staff have also provided free legal aid to prisoners in all the correction facilities of the Republic. 

Individual and the Law works with other NGOs in Yoshkar-Ola, and supports the work of civic activists through providing information, training and legal advice. In particular, in August Individual and the Law ran a workshop on “International Mechanisms for Human Rights Protection” for those who had personal experience of protecting public interests, including NGO representatives, volunteers and members of the general public. 

Individual and the Law also achieved positive outcomes in its legal work. Former mayor of Volzhsk city, Nikolai Svistunov, was released from detention and the criminal case against him was dropped. A young girl - an orphan – Ksenia Tokareva won a case obliging the city council to grant her a flat to which she was legally entitled. A person with disabilities, with both hands missing, after three years’ litigation won the right to ownership of the land that was attached to his house. The court found the actions of the district council, which had opposed him, illegal. Ekaterina Luzina with the help of the lawyers of Individual and the Law proved that she had been dismissed from her employment illegally and won compensation for enforced absence from work and moral harm. Behind these small victories are the lives of real people. It is with problems of this kind that human right defenders deal on a daily basis. 

Next year, the staff of Individual and the Law will continue working in the Republic of Mari El to provide free legal aid to the victims of human rights violations, hold public officials responsible for inhuman or degrading treatment, and win compensation from the government for damages.