Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 29 April 2013 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Russian Federation
Represented by 32-member delegation headed by Alexander Konovalov, Minister of Justice.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Russian Federation on the UPR website.

Troika *

Benin, Argentina, Switzerland.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Russian Federation page on the UPR Extranet)

  • Since the first UPR of the Russian Federation four years ago, important progress has been made in Russian legislation and law enforcement in strengthening and improving national human rights mechanisms in the country;
  • Notably, there has been a democratization of state institutions and enhanced participation of civil society in the decision-making process by public authorities at all levels;
  • In 2012 a law was enshrined to publish information on draft Bills leading to public consultation on such legislation with participation of civil society; as a result, such draft bills that have not been subjected to public discussion cannot be submitted to the Government for its approval;
  • Over the reporting period administrative reforms have led to increasing access to government services, and during Presidential elections last year new measures were also initiated to enhance transparency throughout this process;
  • In order to analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of the legislation, in 2011 a Presidential Decree was adopted entitled "On monitoring of law enforcement in the Russian Federation"; the aim of this decree was to create a single legal mechanism that will generate a consistent and reasonable practice of law-enforcement activity aimed at the effective protection of citizens' rights;
  • In addition, in accordance with the federal decision taken in 2009, citizens and legal entities were able to conduct independent assessments of anti-corruption regulations and their projects; the results of these examinations are subject to mandatory review by the competent authorities;
  • In recent years the Russian Federation has instituted commissioners for children's rights, which operate not only at the federal level, but in all 83 subjects of the Federation;
  • Over the past four years an unprecedented step forward has been realized through major reforms of the penitentiary system; as a result the number of inmates has reduced significantly (to less than 600,000 people incarcerated; compared to nearly one million at the time of the last UPR); reform measures have also led to increased access to medical and vocational services;
  • At the same time, the number of citizens who are serving time in prisons and detention pending trial, declined significantly and now stands at a total of less than 700 thousand people; five years ago, this figure was over 900 thousand people;
  • The State has also taken a number of steps to combat corruption leading with amendment to anti-corruption legislation, the establishment of the Investigation Committee, the function of which is to conduct a preliminary investigation in criminal cases;
  • The Russian Federation was also taking effective measures to eradicate all forms of torture and other ill-treatment; in recent years, Russian society has created a situation of “zero tolerance” for any such actions committed by authorities; a special unit to investigate such cases was also established in order to avoid cases of impunity;
  • At the same time Russian authorities were implementing specific measures to improve the level of independence of the judiciary and to allow for greater transparency in Russian court cases; in May 2012 a new Presidential decree was also enacted aiming to enhance access to justice and another law was enacted allowing for free legal aid for the most needy.  

Participants

In total 102 States participated in the dialogue:  35 HRC members and 67 observers  (Statements available on Russian Federation page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The establishment of Commissioners for the Rights of the Child;
  • The signing of the OP to the CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
  • Ratification of the CRPD and the national strategy on social security and welfare;
  • Steps taken to combat human trafficking;
  • The passing of the law on free legal assistance;
  • Judicial reform measures undertaken. 

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Efforts to ensure that NGOs and civil society can operate freely and without restrictions;
  • Steps taken to investigate all acts of violence against journalists and human rights defenders;
  • Measures taken to investigate any cases of torture and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials;
  • Efforts to prevent discrimination and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation;
  • Steps taken to guarantee the independence of the judiciary;
  • Actions to combat domestic violence and violence against women and girls.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Russian Federation.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To ensure that NGOS and civil society can operate freely and without restrictions; To invite the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders;
  • To review legislation according to which NGOs that accepted foreign funding must register and identify themselves as “foreign agents” and to simplify NGO registration;
  • To thoroughly investigate all acts of violence against journalists and human rights defenders and to ensure that perpetrators were brought to justice;
  • To consider developing inter-religious dialogue and to encourage racial, ethnic and religious tolerance, especially among youth;
  • To formally abolish the death penalty; To end the use of arbitrary detention, torture and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials and to take effective measures to prevent all acts of torture and ill-treatment;
  • To establish an independent body responsible for the appointment, promotion and transfer and discharge of judges; To fully implement the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; To continue efforts on judicial reform;
  • To propose amending the law “On counteracting extremist activities” to define extremism in terms of actual use of violence;
  • To prevent discrimination and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and to effectively investigate such cases; To refrain from adopting legislation that contributed to discrimination of people on the grounds of their sexual orientation;
  • To continue actions to combat domestic violence and violence against women and adopt a comprehensive law and action plan on violence against women and girls; To continue efforts to combat human trafficking and to enhance protection for victims;
  • To adopt a national strategy integrating economic, social and cultural rights to combat poverty; To strengthen programmes aimed at the promotion of the right to health;
  • To accept outstanding request from and extend a standing invitation to UN Special Procedures;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the CRPD, the OPCAT, the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, the 3rd OP to the CRC, the OP to the CRPD, the Convention on enforced disappearances, and ILO Convention 169 on indigenous people. 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Russian Federation is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 2 May 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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