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MOSCOW, November 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian human rights activists more and more often complain of the stranglehold of former law enforcers in public commissions monitoring the observance of prisoners’ rights, Novye Izvestiya reports. Human rights activists believe that former officials of the Interior Ministry cannot objectively assess their colleagues’ work in penitentiary institutions.
Maria Kannabikh, chair of the Presidium of the Council of Public Monitoring Commissions, told the daily that the Public Chamber had been receiving many complaints from human rights activists who were disturbed by membership of former law enforcers in these commissions.
According to human rights association Agora, former law enforcers make up practically a majority of all Russian activists defending prisoners’ rights. Thus, seven people in a fifteen-member commission in the Novosibirsk region, western Siberia, are former employees of the Interior Ministry, while in the Republic of Tatarstan there are eight former law enforcers in the commission.
Moscow started talking about the stranglehold of ex-law enforcers in commissions monitoring the observance of prisoners’ rights after November 18, when the leader of public organization Officers of Russia, former employee of the Federal Security Service, Anton Tsvetkov, was elected to chair a commission.
Human rights activists expressed their indignation over Tsvetkov’s plans to change the commission’s rules and procedures and to ban commission members from visiting Moscow’s pretrial detention centers without coordinating this decision with the commission’s chair.
Human rights activists from six Russian regions protested against composition of public commissions monitoring the observance of prisoners’ rights. Many of them complained of excessive power of former law enforcers in the commissions. “This is a common trend in Russia,” a member of the commission in the Chelyabinsk region, Russia’s Urals, Tatyana Shchur, told Novye Izvestiya. “The ministry woke up and realised that public control played a substantial role in the fight against corruption and violence and this extremely negatively affects reputation of the Federal Penitentiary Service.”
At a meeting of the working group on protection of prisoners’ rights last spring State Duma parliamentarian Yaroslav Nilov stressed the need to introduce quotas for former law enforcers in commissions monitoring the observance of prisoners’ rights. However, this idea has not grown into a legislative initiative so far.
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