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Rights ombudsman hopes amnesty bill will be adopted without major changes

December 06, 2013, 10:30 UTC+3 MOSCOW

He noted that the draft concerns not only defendants and convicts who are serving their term but also persons who have already served their time

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Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin

Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin

© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Nikolsky

MOSCOW, December 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said he was hopeful that the amnesty law drafted by the Human Rights Council would be adopted without major changes.

“The proposed text is one of the best versions of amnesty over the past two decades both in terms of outreach and thoroughness. Some of the concrete provisions can and should be specified of course, but without conceptual changes to the document as a whole,” Lukin said in a statement on Thursday, December 5.

He noted that the draft “concerns not only defendants and convicts who are serving their term but also persons who have already served their time. Amnesty will also clear their criminal record.”

The draft covers not only criminal offences but also administrative restrictions (such as on entry to Russia) and disciplinary penalties for convicted persons, as well as coercive medical treatment.

Lukin believes that “broad amnesty can help build trust between people and the authorities and minimize the risk of extremist scenarios in the country.

On Wednesday, December 4, President Vladimir Putin discussed the declaration of an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s Constitution at a meeting with Presidential Adviser and Chairman of the Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov and Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

“Amnesty may be applied only to those persons who did not commit grave crimes or crimes connected with violent actions against representatives of the authorities, primarily law enforcement agencies,” the president said.

Putin instructed Fedotov and Lukin to “finalize the (amnesty) document together with State Duma deputies.”

“The decision should be balanced but definitely aimed at humanizing law enforcement practices,” the head of state added.

Fedotov recalled that Putin had instructed the Human Rights Council in September to prepare proposals regarding amnesty on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution.

“During your meeting with the Council on September 4, we raised the matter of declaring an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s Constitution. You said then that this is something we need to think about, instructed the Council to draft proposals and gave us a deadline of October 15. On October 11, we discussed the draft proposals at a Council meeting. The proposals were approved by the majority of the Council’s members and were sent to the Presidential Executive Office,” Fedotov said.

“There are various points of view and differences of opinion regarding the details. But it is important that there is an understanding that everyone who has taken part in the discussions agrees in principle with the idea that the Constitution’s 20th anniversary is a fitting occasion to sum up some results and draw a line,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the meeting that it would be too early to name concrete persons who might be set free under the proposed amnesty.

“It would be premature, imprudently and wrong,” he said.

“The draft law on amnesty will be submitted by the president. It will be finalized within the next several days to take into account today’s meeting (between President Vladimir Putin and the Presidential Human Rights Council Chair Mikhail Fedotov),” he said.

“There is obviously a general consensus that the amnesty may apply to those who did not commit violent crimes,” Peskov said. At the same time, he said: “It would be premature to say that the amnesty will apply to such and such concrete persons.”

“It would be imprudently and wrong to say so now. The document will be finalized and clear criteria will be determined. As the president has said, they will be determined through dialogue between the presidential administration and parliament and between experts and members of civil society,” the spokesperson said.

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