Duma considers draft law expanding grounds for ad hoc checks of NGOs
A draft law on increasing the list of reasons
why an NGO may be subject to an ad hoc inspection by the Ministry of Justice
has been tabled in the Duma. Hitherto, only NGOs deemed to be “foreign agents”
could be subjected to an ad hoc inspection, but the amended law will make it
possible for all NGOs to have such inspections.
The draft has been published on the Duma website. (http://asozd2c.duma.gov.ru/addwork/scans.nsf/ID/77135ECF705D596143257B96002DF1C1/$FILE/304073-6.PDF?OpenElement).
Such checks may be
carried out at the request of the Procuracy, government or President, or at the
request of an electoral commission. NGOs which have failed within the required
time to make corrections demanded after they received a warning, may also be
subject to such checks. Another reason for such checks could be when a
territorial procuracy receives information from state or local authorities that
an NGO has been engaged in illegal activity including acts of extremism. Then,
if the inspection finds evidence of extremist activity, the NGO will be banned.
An earlier draft of the law provided for such checks to be carried out on third
sector organisations at the instigation of individual citizens or mass media but
this point was omitted form the later version. The current law only provides
for such ad hoc checks in one situation: when an electoral commission requests
it. Minister of Justice Konovalov said earlier the reason for increasing the grounds
for such checks were objective and not political. The explanatory notes to the
law say that the Ministry of Justice has failed to react quickly when it receives
information about illegal activity by NGOs, thus reducing the effectiveness of
state supervision of the NGO sector. The new law will, in the opinion of the
drafters, ensure that all are equal before the law. The Minister said that in
2012 6,497 NGOs (3% of registered NGOs) were checked, of which 206 were
subjected to ad hoc checks (3%).