ECHR considering complaints about ‘foreign agents’ law
Russia may be required to amend legislation on non-governmental organisations.
The Secretariat of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has turned to lawyers representing the Russian NGOs with a request to verify the information necessary to present certain questions about the Law on “Foreign Agents” to the Russian authorities, according to Vedomosti. According to the lawyers, a decision may be delivered on behalf of Russian NGOs as soon as 2017: the ECHR may acknowledge that the law contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights, and could find violations of the rights of specific applicants, and could also demand that the Russian authorities change the legislation.
There have been about 50 complaints submitted to Strasbourg on behalf of NGOs. Complaints have been submitted on behalf of the environmental charity “Green World”; the local Nizhny Novgorod socio-environmental organisation by the same name; the Foundation to Support Investigative Journalism; the Humanitarian Youth Movement; the Union of Women of the Don; the Kostroma Centre to Support Social Initiatives; the FreeInform Information Centre; and Dront environmental centre. A collective complaint was submitted by 11 NGOs was submitted in 2013.
The Russian Constitutional Court held in 2015 that in exceptional circumstances, decisions of the European Court may not be implemented if they contradict the principles and norms of the Russian Constitution. The President later signed a law according to which the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation reserves the right not to fulfil decisions of bodies concerning international human rights and freedoms if they contradict the fundamental laws of the Russian Federation.
Earlier, Amnesty International presented its report: Agents of the people: Four years of the foreign agents law in Russia, which revealed that the law’s enactment has led to independent NGOs being pushed to the brink of extinction. By the end of 2016, the presidential administration will convene an assembly to discuss possible amendments to the law on “foreign agents”, initiated by the Presidential council of the Russian Federation on the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights and the Committee for Civic Initiatives. The meeting will be led by Sergei Kirienko, the First Deputy of the Head of the Presidential Administration.