#8 - JRL 2009-218 - JRL Home
Violations in criminal court procedure on rise - Russian rights ombudsman
November 26, 2009

The number of appeals to the human rights ombudsman is increasing by the year, Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has said, as reported by RIA Novosti news agency on 26 November. Russians complain mainly about violations of their rights in the criminal law and about violations in relation to those entitled to free housing, he added.

"A steady growth trend is observed every year as regards the number of appeals to the ombudsman. This year, according to the information as of mid-November, the number of received complaints rose 10 per cent against 2008. Most complaints, and their number is considerably higher than the other ones, are being received in connection with violation of human rights in the criminal court procedure," Lukin said.

"The problem of keeping people in remand centres is very important, even despite the fact that the situation now is not as bad as at the end of the last century and at the beginning of the current century, when people took turns to sleep and even did it in several shifts," he said.

Lukin went on to say that unfortunately, "remand in custody as a measure of restraint has not lost its exceptional nature and is used most often in our country, not to say in the overwhelming majority of cases".

There is a steady trend of an increasing number of people held in prisons. Over 820,000 people were held in prisons in 2005, whereas in 2004 their number was slightly over 760,000 people. Over 870,000 people are currently held in prisons, he added.

"The problem is very serious, first of all, because a person, to whom a court has not yet delivered a guilty verdict, is deprived of freedom, i.e. one of his most essential constitutional rights," Lukin said.

"Establishing more precise criteria of the possibility to apply remand in custody as a measure of restraint may become an effective way to resolve this problem. For example, the components of a crime, for which remand in custody as a measure of restraint cannot be applied inherently, should be stipulated in the law," he added.

According to Lukin, North Caucasus remains the hottest spot in the map of Russia.

Speaking about the situation in Chechnya, Lukin said that against the background of some signs of stabilization of the situation, "information about violations of Chechen residents' rights is coming regularly through non-state information channels".

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