New commission proposed to oversee places of detention

posted 10 Jun 2013, 08:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Jun 2013, 08:06 ]
6 June 2013

Source: (info
The State Duma Committee on civil society organizations and religious organizations has developed amendments to the law that would provide for the creation of a new body to conduct oversight of places of detention. 

As writes, citing the newspaper Kommersant, what is proposed is the creation of a federal Public Oversight Commission under the Federal Human Rights Ombudsman. 

According to the text of the amendments, the Ombudsman would set up the commission and establish its membership. The commission’s members would have five-year terms in office. 

The authors of the amendment also propose to significantly widen the powers of observers. In particular, they would have the access not only to penal colonies and pre-trial detention centers, but also to various detention cells and psychiatric hospitals. It is also planned to give them the power to take part in parole hearings and immunity from criminal prosecution. 

According to the authors of the amendments, the Public Oversight Commissions that have been created since 2008 to monitor observance of the law in places of detention are not able to deal with the issue before them. "Over the five years of work of the Public Oversight Commissions, in most regions they have fallen under the control of people who have come from the law enforcement agencies, for example in Mordovia, Tatarstan, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Novgorod, and Saratov the leading roles in the commissions have been taken by law enforcement officers or people close to the Pentitentiary Service,” sources in the State Duma told Kommersant. 

The Public Chamber, which oversees the Public Oversight Commissions, categorically does not agree with these accusation that the commissions have fallen under the control of the law enforcement agencies. The Public Chamber has also spoken out the creation of a Federal Public Oversight Commission. 

Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has also said that the draft amendments have built into them a potential conflict with the Public Chamber. He pointed out that it would be better if the new structure was made up of representatives of the staff of the Ombudsman’s office, the Presidential Human Rights Council and the Public Chamber. 

The amendments are likely to be introduced into the State Duma later in the summer, and considered in the autumn.