MOSCOW, November 21 (Itar-Tass) — The RF Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights (HRC) on Wednesday gathered in Moscow for the first meeting in a new format.
The meeting agenda includes a report by HRC Chairman Mikhail Fedotov on the priority tasks of the Council and its work plan until July 1, 2013, the development of proposals for amending the Statute on the Council (the current Statue was approved by RF presidential decree in 2011).
Before the reform, the HRC included 38 members. Its composition is authorised by the president. However, last spring and summer a number of the Council’s members declared their walkout for various reasons, leaving 13 vacant seats. A new procedure was tested for forming a new HRC composition. The HRC declared a campaign among non-governmental organisations to nominate their candidates for seats on the council in several nominations that would correspond to specific fields of human rights activity. Then they were published in the Internet for a wide public discussion. The Internet consultations were held on September 1 through 15. The results were then processed by HRC members. In the end there appeared a short list containing no less than three candidates in each of the 13 nominations. Fedotov presented the list to the president. He briefed the head of state on the nominations and the candidates and also told whom of the contenders the current HRC members would like to see as their future colleagues. Putin suggested expanding the membership of the Council by including in it not one person from each troika, but the top three in each nomination who had got support in the Internet voting. He also came out with a proposal for introducing a rotating HRC presidium for regular working meetings.
The revamped HRC is also expected on Wednesday to form 18 working groups, in particular, on the development of NGOs, on social rights, on civil liberties and civic engagement, environmental rights. The list of groups that will be possibly created includes the groups on historical memory, on citizens' participation in legal reform, on civil-military relations and on citizens' participation in the fight against corruption and control of law enforcement agencies, on citizens' participation in the modernisation of the economy. Separate groups are to be engaged in assisting the public supervisory commissions and the penitentiary system reform, focus on the issue of citizens’ participation in peacekeeping and civil consolidation of ethnic and cultural communities in the North Caucasus, on cultural rights, the law on public control, voting rights, matters related to the freedom of information and journalists’ rights, protection of the rights of migrants and migration policy, labour rights and social partnership, protection of human rights in the post-Soviet space.
The new Council, which includes 63 members, was approved by the decree of President Vladimir Putin on November 12.
The current meeting has the required quorum.