Russian Human Rights Ombudsman calls her remit ‘out of date’
The Russian Human Rights Ombudsman, Tatiana Moskalkova, has noted the continuing high number of complaints about human rights infringements addressed to the Ombudsman’s Office.
She said that in 2017, as in the previous year, about 42,000 complaints were made to the Human Rights Ombudsman. These concerned breaches of rights in the fields of housing, health, criminal procedure and the penal system, RIA Novosti reports.
‘In medical terms the situation would be termed serious but stable,’ the Ombudsman observed, speaking at a conference on ‘The Human Rights Ombudsman and the legal education of citizens: experience in the regions’, in Vologda on 18 January.
According to Moskalkova, at present the Ombudsman does not possess adequate powers to implement citizens’ rights.
‘The institution of the Ombudsman is currently out of date – as it was in 2017, twenty years after it was established… We would be prepared to respond to chaotic situations in hospitals…or in the educational system… but these services can be in private hands, where we do not have the right to intervene,’ she emphasised.
Moskalkova added that the Human Rights Ombudsman is only in a position to respond to complaints relating to infringements permitted by state agencies or local authorities.
The Ombudsman also called on people to improve their legal literacy. She argued that a widespread reluctance to become familiar with citizen’s rights can adversely affects people’s ability to defend themselves and lead to increases in criminal behaviour, the official website of the Ombudsman reports.
‘As Ombudsman, I have seen the consequences of a poor understanding of the law and the inability to defend one’s rights. They can be tragic. Many disastrous situations, which I and my colleagues in the Ombudsman’s Office have to deal with, could be avoided if people had some elementary knowledge of their rights and how these can be protected. When dealing with complaints, in an average of 70% of cases the Ombudsman’s intervention was unnecessary. People simply need to be clear on how to tackle the defence of their rights,’ Moskalkova said.
The Ombudsman also added that, from 2018, Russian universities would be introducing ‘Human Rights’ as a subject area.
Moskalkova believes that education programmes should use interactive methods and the latest digital technologies. They should create mobile applications and actively promote knowledge of the law on social networks, as well as in social media advertising.