Human rights defenders demand full public oversight of government

posted 21 Oct 2013, 18:37 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 21 Oct 2013, 18:45 ]
18 October 2013 

Source: (info)
On Friday, 18 October, the newspaper Kommersant reported that the Presidential Human Rights Council and the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation have jointly prepared a bill on public oversight of government institutions that would give NGOs wide powers to evaluate and assess the work of executive and legislative bodies bodies.

According to the draft bill, federal and regional public chambers, advisory councils attached to government bodies, Public Oversight Commissions for places of detention, trade unions and also advisory bodies established by government institutions in the realms of culture, health, pension funds and other organizations.

As Kommersant learnt, the draft bill would for the first time establish the framework for public oversight. Public oversight would include public monitoring, independent review bodies, public hearings and independent investigations. Officials would be obliged to consider the results of the inquiries in terms of queries, conclusions, recommendations, reports, final protocols and other outcomes, and also keep NGOs informed about the plans for their future work.

The draft bill also provides for obligatory independent assessment of amendments to the Russian Constitution, federal constitutional laws, regional constitutions and charters, laws on regional and federal budgets, federal and regional programmes relating to government expenditures, and laws which regulate the establishment of government bodies, writes.

The head of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov explained that with the introduction of a system of public oversight, all independent assessments that were formerly conducted by various non-governmental bodies would acquire a legal status and could be used in court, or in relation to the work of public prosecutors.

Iosif Diskin, a member of the Public Chamber and one of the authors of the draft bill, said it would be forwarded to the State Duma before the end of the autumn session. In his words, with the passing of this bill, the Civic, Water and Forest Legal Codes, along with other Russian federal laws that regulate the working of federal executive bodies, will need to be amended. "A huge amount of work awaits us,” he told the publication.

At the same time, the head of the State Duma Committee on NGOs and religious organizations, Yaroslav Nilov, said the bill had good chances of being approved by the State Duma, Kommersant added.