RF Constitutional Court counts Council for Human Rights as third party

Moscow, 25.12.2014

The Russian Constitutional Court has asked the Presidential Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (CHR) to act as third party in matters involving complaints by NGOs concerning the Law on the Procuracy. The Head of the Agora Association, Pavel Chikov, thinks that the systematic involvement of a third party could affect the conduct of courts of general jurisdiction. Previously, the Constitutional Court had agreed to consider complaints about the Law on the Procuracy from a number of NGOs, including Agora, Memorial, and the Civil Action Committee. The Constitutional Court asked the CHR to give an opinion in the capacity of third party in writing by 16 January. CHR members Shablinksky, Polyakova and Morshchakova will draft the document.

Mikhail Fedotov, Chairman of the CHR, commented to Vedomosti that the Constitutional Court has asked the opinion of the CHR for the first time. He thought that this could be a sign that judges have a high opinion of the CHR’s views, which were formerly offered at their own initiative. Thus the Council’s opinions will be able to affect the decisions of the Court. The Court has asked for the CHR’s comments on a range of issues concerning the Procuracy’s supervision of NGOs. For example, whether the Procuracy is duplicating the work of other agencies concerned with civil society. And whether it should conduct checks on NGOs after issues have been raised about them or just when it decides itself to do so.

This year is the first when the practice of consulting third parties has been introduced, said Chikov. The existing laws did not prevent courts from asking for third party opinions, but in practice they did not do so. By its actions the Constitutional Court could affect the behaviour of other courts, he thought. In the past the Supreme Court did not allow requests by Agora to the Procuracy, for example when it tried to raise issues concerning the regulation of NGOs.

By Georgy Ivanushkin


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