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ANNUAL REPORT on the project: “Strategic Implementation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Russian Courts.”

ANNUAL REPORT on the project: “Strategic Implementation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Russian Courts.”

Period of the project: 2009-2012

Supporting foundation: Macarthur Foundation

Reporting period: 01.09.2009 – 31.12.2009

Name of the organization: Sverdlovsk Regional Public Organization “Sutyajnik”

620075 Russia, Ekaterinburg, Turgenev Street, 11-1

Tel/fax: +7 (343) 355-36-51 e-mail: belyaev@sutyajnik.ru

Beginning on September 1, 2009 Sverdlovsk Regional Public Organization “Sutyajnik” (NGO) initiated the project “Strategic Implementation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Russian Courts”.

For the duration of the reported period the project's staff completed the following work:

1.Managerial activity

September 2009

The NGO staff held meetings to discuss the planning of the project and identify the potential circle of participants in the project.

October 2009

Preliminary meetings were held with the project coordinator and the Ombudsman of the Sverdlovsk oblast to discuss the plan of the project. The draft outline of the project was discussed and agreed upon. Potential participants were identified.

November 2009

A meeting with the president of the NGO and the coordinator of the project was held with the Ombudsman of the Sverdlovsk oblast. An outline of the project realization for the next six months was discussed and accepted. A decision to hold a round table titled “The Impact of International Norms on Human Rights on the Russian Legal System,” that would spearhead the project was reached and scheduled for December 17, 2009.

December 2009

The round table “The Impact of International Norms on Human Rights on the Russian Legal System” was held on December 17, 2009. The coordinator of the project met with the Ombudsman of the Sverdlovsk region, deputy chairman of the Committee on legislation, public security, and the local government of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Duma, chairman of the Urals Law Chamber (an non-for-profit organization with the membership of law firms of the region), and members of the Qualification Collegium of Judges of Sverdlovsl oblast in order to reach an agreement to hold a joint round table in collaboration with the Ombudsman, the Regional Duma, local NGOs, and representatives of the NGO Sutyajnik. The agreement was reached, the round table was scheduled and held on December 17, 2009.

Goals reached:

(1) the event not only attracted the attention of those who collaborated in holding the round table, but also of the deputies of the Sverdlovsk oblast Duma, Head of the State Legal Bureau in Sverdlovsk oblast, heads of the law clinics in Ekaterinburg, legal academics, members of NGOs, and most importantly members of the Qualification Collegium of Judges of the Sverdlovsl oblast. The latter is directly involved in charging judges with disciplinary offences;

(2) participant were informed (two presentations were given by representatives of the NGO Sutyajnik) on international human rights treaties available to Russian citizens, on methods of their application at the national level (see also “Informational campaign”);

(3) after the presentations participants got involved in lively discussions on the quality of university legal education regarding teaching human rights; in teaching special courses on implementation of international human rights guarantees; in quality of the use of international human rights treaties by judges; and in the problem of execution of national court decisions and ECHR judgments;

(4) participants unanimously agreed that implementation of provisions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms could prevent Russia from the large number of application received by the ECHR. Which on the other hand will help to afford remedies to human rights violations at the national level;

(5) organizers of the round table suggested to hold such a round table with the participation of member of the qualification collegiums of judges from different oblasts of the Urals Federal District.

The materials from the round table are published at http://sutyajnik.ru/cgi-bin/actions.php?action_id=9991

2.Strategic litigation of cases based of the provisions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Criminal and civil cases litigated by the participants of the project were analysed with the purpose of identifying cases that would support the strategy of the litigation campaign on domestic implementation of the Convention and the case-law of the ECHR in Russian courts. Also criminal and civil cases mentioned below, where domestic remedies were exhausted, were selected to be brought or to be supported in their litigation before the ECHR. In the long run the latter cases could also make an impact on the use of the Convention at the national level.

Killings by state officials

Law suit of Kukushkina R.V. on compensation of peculiar and non-peculiar damages caused by the death of her son in prison.

Having been sentenced to a real term of deprivation of freedom, a son of Kukushkina R.V. was placed into prison in good health. Four months later he died because of injuries. Kukushkina R.V. filed a law suit against the Bureau of Federal Service of Execution of Sentences in Sverdlovsk oblast and claimed the violation of Article 2 and 3 of the Convention. Under these provisions each inmate must be held in the conditions free from torture, conditions compatible with respect for human dignity, human treatment and life.

Application of Bugrova L.S. asking the procurator's office to undertake an investigation of circumstances of her husband's death during his detention.

Husband of Bugrova L.S. was found dead in a detention cell of local militia of Oktiabrskiy district of Ekaterinburg. Militia officers were inactive to prevent the death of the inmate. Based on the positive obligations of Article 2 of the Convention, Mrs Bugrova is demanding the procurator's office to investigate the circumstances in the death of her husband.

Torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of citizens by state officials; detention conditions in pre-trial detention centers, prisons, and psychiatric hospitals.

Criminal persecution of human rights activist Alexey Sokolov

In May 2009 a well known human rights activist from Ekaterinburg, director of the documentary “Factory of Torture”, head of the NGO “Legal Basis”, and a member of the public oversight commission for human rights observance in detention centers in Sverdlovsk oblast, Alexey Sokolov was criminally charged for theft which took place in 2004. Since 2004 the case was not investigated. Sokolov was detained pending the completion of investigation and trial. Advocate of Sokolov regularly challenged pre-trial detention claiming that under Article 5 of the Convention and corresponding case-law of the ECHR there is no ground for pre-trial detention of Sokolov. He also complained about condition of pre-trial detention under Article 3 of the Convention.

Details of the case http://sutyajnik.ru/files/42/

Human rights activists Vladimir Shaklein challenges illegal detention

On June 16, 2009 after standing in a protest on the main street of Ekaterinburg, the head of the NGO “Interregional Center for Human Rights,” Vladimir Schaklein was illegally arrested and detained for an hour in the local militia office of Kirovskiy district of Ekaterinburg. Having based his case on Article 5 of the Convention, Shaklein filed a complaint to Kirovskiy district court of Ekaterinburg challenging the arrest and detention. In December the court refused the complaint. Application to the ECHR is being prepared.

Butusov v. Russia

In 2003 Snezhinskiy district court issued an order on pretrial detention of Butusov. Butusov filed an application before the ECHR claiming the violation of Article 5(4) of the Convention caused by the delay in hearing his cassation and holding a hearing without him and his advocate being present. In its judgment of December 22, 2009 the ECHR stressed that High Contracting Parties are responsible for organising their legal system in such a way that would prevent violation of Artcile 5(4) of the Convention. The applicant was granted EUR 1 800.

Details of the case http://sutyajnik.ru/cases/434.html

Borisov v. Russia

Borisov was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment for fraud. After being sentenced by the court of first instance, Borisov was placed under detention pending hearing of his cassation. Sverdlovsk oblast court heard the cassation without Borisov being present – he was not delivered to the court from the pre-trial detention center. Borisov filed a complaint before the ECHR claiming the violation of Article 6 of the Convention. He also filed a complaint under Article 3 of the Convention regarding the conditions of pretrial detention. On December 4, 2009 the ECHR decided to give priority to consideration of this case and communicated materials to the Russian government asking to provide memorandum by March 26, 2010.

Public oversight of detention centers

Staff attorneys of the NGO Sutyajnik regularly consult members of the Public oversight commission for human rights observance in detention centers in Sverdlovsk oblast. All the materials of the activity of the Commission are published on http://sutyajnik.ru/files/40/

Human trafficking

Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia

Oxana Rantseva, a daughter of the applicant, thought she had found her dream job when she was offered the chance to work as a translator in Cyprus. But just over three weeks after she flew out to Limassol, the Greek Cypriot capital, she was found dead in a fall from a fifth-storey window. She had been trying to escape a job in a nightclub that had little to do with translating. That was in March 2001. To this day, no one in Oxana's case - in Cyprus or in Russia - has faced any trafficking charges, while the Cypriot authorities have refused to launch a criminal investigation. But in December 2009 the ECHR considered the application by the father of Oxana Rantseva, Mr. Rantsev, against Cyprus and Russia. The judgment is expected on January 7, 2010.

The case's materials are on http://sutyajnik.ru/cases/397.html

The rights to access to justice

The right to reconsideration of a civil judgment on adoption of a child of Russian citizenship by foreigners based on newly discovered circumstances.

Five years ago Sverdlovsk oblast court allowed the UK family to adopt Igor Galaev. The judgment was based inter alia on the document that states that his grandmother and father refused to adopt the child. This document was a fraud as was later determined by the expertise and found out by Igor's grandmother who is already a guardian of an older brother of Igor. Their mother has died. Ms Galaeva, Igor’s father, and Igor’s brother, filed an application for reconsideration of the adoption judgment due to newly discovered circumstances – the fraud of the adoption documents. Sverdlovsk oblast court refused, stating that the applicants have no standing to file such an application due to the fact that they were not a party at the original hearing of the adoption case. Applicants appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. They claim that there is a violation of the right to access to court (Article 6 of the Convention) and the right to effective domestic remedies (Article 13 of the Convention), and the right to a family life (Article 8 of the Convention). The hearing at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is scheduled for 9 February 2010.

Sverdlovsk oblast court gives notice to Chief Justice and a deputy Chief Justice of Ordgonikidgevskiy district court of Ekaterinburg regarding violation of Article 6 of the Convention.

The cassation instance of Sverdlovsk oblast court issued a decision in respect to Chief Justice and a deputy Chief Justice of Ordgonikidgevskiy district court of Ekaterinburg stating that procedural violations allowed by a deputy Chief Justice of the Ordgonikidgevskiy district court of Ekaterinburg during the consideration of a family case amounts to the violation of the right to fair trial under Article 6(1) of the Convention.

The Sverdlovsk oblast court's decision is at http://sutyajnik.ru/documents/3021.pdf

Khalliullin v. Russia

In 1998 Mr Khalliullin was working in a rescue team at Chernobyl Atomic Plant. Due to this he was exposed to radiation. Mr Khalliullin became disabled and was awarded a compensation that was not paid due. He filed a law suit asking regular payments of compensations and another law suit on non-execution of judgment. He was not able to protect his rights by available domestic remedies. He filed an application before the ECHR claiming the violation of Article 6(1), 13 of the Convention and Article 1 of the Protocol 1 to the Convention. In December 2009 Russian government offered to settle the case due to the pilot ECHR judgment Burdov v. Russia (2). Settlement procedure is under way.

Case's materials are at http://sutyajnik.ru/cases/368.html

Sutyajnik v. Russia

The case Sutyajnik v. Russia concerns the situation of the right to a fair trial. The case is significant for Russian NGOs because of the 1995 law affecting non-governmental organizations, forcing all NGOs in Russia to undergo a re-registration process. Sutyajnik filed papers with the regional ministry of justice. Re-registration was refused. Sutyajnik turned to the court. The commercial court of Sverdlovsk oblast ruled for the re-registration of the NGO Sutyajnik. The judgement entered into force shortly. A year later the Supreme Commercial Court quashed the judgment stating that the case was considered in violation of the court jurisdiction. Sutyajnik filed an application before the ECHR claiming the violation of the right to fair trial (Article 6(1) of the Convention) particularly violation of the principle of legal certainty. The ECHR ruled in favor of the applicant. On 10 December 2009 the ECHR judgment entered into force. Execution of the ECHR judgment is under way.

Case's materials are at http://sutyajnik.ru/cases/217.html

3. Informational campaign

September 2009

Management of Sredneuralskiy bureau of internal affairs in transport of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation asked to hold a training session on case-law of the ECHR concerning the way criminal investigation must be conducted in accordance with the Convention. The training was held in the office of the Ombudsman of the Sverdlovsk oblast. Participants discussed ECHR judgments delivered against Russia dealing with cases on torture and inhuman treatment (Mikheev v. Russia, Menesheva v. Russia), provocations (Vanian v. Russia, Khudoerov v. Russia), on the right not to be prosecuted twice (Zolotuhin v. Russia).

October 2009

International conference was held titled, “Legal Aid to Poor People in Russia” (Moscow, Ministry of Regional Development of the Russian Federation, Russian Legal Academy of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, 6-7 October 2009). A representative of Sutyajnik delivered a talk on “Legal aid in civil and administrative cases under the Russian legislation and the Convention for the protection of Human Rights”. The presenter stressed additional remedies that could be found in the Convention and the ECHR case-law and used at the national courts.

November 2009

Press-conference was held on the “Abuse of Power at the system of Ministry of Domestic Affairs” on the internet-radio of the NGO Sutyajnik with participation of well-known outspoken former officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Alexey Dymovskiy (Novorossiysk) and Igor Kanygin (Ekaterinburg) on November 25, 2009. The podcast is available at http://sutyajnik.ru/radio/

Interview on the internet-radio was conducted on November 26, 2009 at the NGO Sutyajnik with human rights activists Vladimir Shaklein regarding the July 14, 2009 judgment of Kirovskiy district court of Ekaterinburg. This judgment confirmed the right of members of public oversight commissions to visit detained and prisoners. The podcast is available at http://sutyajnik.ru/radio

International conference “HUMAN RIGHTS DURING TRANSITION FROM PLAN TO MARKET. Access to justice and labor migration compared across post-socialist Europe & Asia» (the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen, 19-20 November 2009). The main area of the conference is protection of the right to gain one’s living by work and the functioning of labor markets - hereby the possibilities of citizens to claim these rights within their local environment. Migration is given special, but not exclusive, attention along with complaints mechanisms and legal aid related to labor issues. Representative of the NGO Sutyajnik presented a paper on the use of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in Russian courts.

December 2009

Round table “Pro bono publico”: issues of rendering free legal aid and social responsibility of legal businesses (2 December 2009, Ekaterinburg). This event demonstrated a new area of work for the legal businesses, which is a long tradition of western law firms – pro bono work. Representatives of the NGO Sutyajnik gave talks on “How NGOs could use pro bono services of law firms when litigating cases at national and international level based of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights” and on “Effectiveness of pro-bono work of law firms”.

Round table “The Impact of International Norms on Human Rights on the Russian Legal System” was held on December 17, 2009. See also chapter of this report “Managerial Activity”. Two presentations were given by representatives of the NGO Sutyajnik: “The implementation of norms of international law at he national level”; “Legal guarantees of human rights contained in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms available for the use of members of the Qualification collegium of judges”. Each participant received a copy of books from the series “International Protection of Human Rights”. One of the participants published an article – a reflection of the round table – Alexeev V. “Notes from the round table. European Convention on Human Rights with the Russian Accent,” dated December 19, 2009. Available at http://sutyajnik.ru/articles/339.html

Materials from the round table are available at http://sutyajnik.ru/cgi-bin/actions.php?action_id=9991

Publishing of articles and books on the topic of the project

Sultanov A. R. “The Impact of the judgements of the ECHR on administration of justice in Russia through the prism of the case of Sutyajnik v. Russia // Journal “Law” No 11 November 2009

Burkov A. L. “The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in the Russian Legal System” // Comparative Constitutional Review. 2009. No 4(71). P. 121-135.

Demeneva A. V. “Execution of judgments of the ECHR by Russia: quantity which does not lead to quality” // Comparative Constitutional Review. 2009. No 4(71). P. 63-84.

The book Burkov A. L. “The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in Courts of Russia”. Moscow: Wolters Kluwer. 2010 is expected to be published in February 2010.

The NGO's web-site has a page titled “The Implementation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in courts” which collects all the materials on the domestic use of the Convention http://sutyajnik.ru/files/16/

8 February 2010

President Beliaev S. I.

18.05.2010

 

 

 

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