Duma discusses amendments to law on prisoners’ rights and role of community monitoring
Law on rights of prisoners amended
Amendments to the law that change the role of community monitoring committees have been given their second reading in the national parliament
Community monitoring committees are made up of regional human rights advocates who defend the rights of those who have been arrested or convicted of a crime. Committee members can visit remand centres, penal camps, detention centres for foreign nationals, police stations and mental health facilities.
The new amendments to the Human Rights Community Monitoring (Detention Centres) Act allow organisations to nominate candidates to sit on community monitoring committees. Eligible organisations include associations, unions, foundations and independent not-for-profit organisations.
The requirements on organisations that nominate their candidates to sit on the community monitoring committees have been amended: the length of time that an organisation has to have been involved in human rights advocacy to be able to nominate its staff members to join a monitoring committee has been reduced from five to three years.
The Committee of the Civic Chamber now has the power to exclude from the monitoring committees any human rights advocates who do not visit remand centres or penal camps. Previously, the Committee was only able to approve candidates nominated to the monitoring committees.
There is also a proposal to reimburse the monitoring committee members’ expenses for travel, communications and printing.
The amendments officially recognise the monitoring committees’ independence from bodies of the national government and local authorities, as well as national and municipal organisations. Political parties, and international and foreign organisations, are prohibited from interfering in the work of the committees. Political parties are also banned from nominating candidates to sit as committee members.