Russia: proposed Ombudsman for the Rights of the Homeless
“Basic human rights are being denied to homeless people”: A proposal for the creation of an Ombudsman for the Rights of the Homeless
A proposal to create the post of a separate Russian Ombudsman for the Rights of the Homeless has been made in a letter to the Federation’s Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin.
The man behind the proposal, Vyacheslav Moshkov, head of the Homeless RF project, is drawing attention to the additional hardship the pandemic has brought to the homeless which has attracted the support of Olga Demicheva, President of the Dr Liza Fair Help Foundation. “A Human Rights Ombudsman cannot cover everything – it’s no coincidence that we have separate Commissioners for the Rights of Children and Entrepreneurs”.
“Homeless people are often denied basic human rights to food, recreation and routine medical care. Although able to deal with many problem areas, charities cannot fill all the gaps, which is why this issue must be addressed systematically at State level”, Demicheva told ASI.
The proposal sent to Russia’s Prime Minister also states that feeding the homeless in Moscow’s railway stations is in fact illegal given the country’s self-isolation restrictions. One of the largest organisations for the homeless was on the verge of closing down due to a lack of work for those in their care. Hundreds of people, including the elderly and disabled, could find themselves on the streets.
“It’s at moments like these that the lack of an executive official who can quickly identify problems and help homeless people and organisations by showing the necessary commitment and flexibility is keenly felt”, said Moshkov.
In Moshkov’s opinion, negative public attitudes towards this vulnerable group continue to be a serious problem which would be addressed by the appointment of a Human Rights Ombudsman for the Homeless.
However, Tatyana Konstantinova, a board member of the Dr Liza Fair Help Foundation, claims that the idea of creating such a post is to dehumanise and marginalise the homeless. “The plight of the homeless falls within the remit of the Human Rights Ombudsman. There are already well-established agencies and fora that provide help to disadvantaged groups including the homeless which have a successful track record in resolving serious problems”, Konstantinova told ASI.