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Who Can Visit Pre-Trial Detention Centres to Conduct Inspections?

Source: (info), 08/04/11

· Ombudsmen · Human Rights Defenders · Prisoners

On 7 April the press service of the Head of State said President Dmitry Medvedev had signed a law providing for certain people to have the right to enter pre-trial detention centres without hindrance to check on the observance of human rights and the rule of law.

The right to visit places of enforced detention without hindrance has been given to the Federal Human Rights Ombudsman, regional human rights ombudsmen, members of Public Oversight Commissions, and representatives of international organizations, if this right is foreseen in corresponding treaties with the government.

Others who have the right to visit pre-trial detention centres are the President, the Prime Minister, governors, senators, members of the State Duma and of regional parliaments, members of the legislative branch of government in the subjects of the Russian Federation, the Prosecutor General and prosecutors empowered to so do by the Prosecutor General.

Kremlin officials believe the law will strengthen government and public oversight of human rights compliance in places of enforced detention.

As noted, earlier there had been scandals about appointments to Public Oversight Commissions.

After two years of work, when the membership of the Moscow Commission was renewed, Mikhail Kriger and Ivan Ninenko were removed as members. The reason for their removal was that, allegedly, they had been fined for violations of administrative law. However, other human rights defenders stated that the authorities wished to lower the authority of the Public Oversight Commissions.

Public Oversight Commissions were created in 2008 as bodies subordinate to the Public Chambers in all Russian regions. Their function is to conduct oversight of human rights compliance in places of imprisonment and to provide assistance to those detained and convicted.