COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
26 February - 15 March 1996
Concluding observations of the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports of the Russian Federation (CERD/C/263/Add.9) at its 1133nd and 1134th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1133 and 1134), held on 28 and 29 February 1996, and adopted the following concluding observations at its 1150th meeting held on 12 March 1996.
2. The Committee notes with appreciation the State Party's readiness to continue the dialogue with the Committee by sending a high-level representation to present the report, which serves as an indication of the importance attached by the Government of the Russian Federation to its obligations under the Convention. However, the Committee regrets that the reports were not submitted on time, that they do not fully comply with the reporting guidelines, did not contain adequate information on the implementation of the Convention in the Republics and that, in particular, the information on Chechnya requested at the 46th session of the Committee was not included, but only supplied orally by the delegation.
B. Positive aspects
3. The establishment in 1993 of a special Commission on Human Rights is welcomed. It is also noted with satisfaction that a parliamentary group has been mandated to investigate human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the Chechen conflict. Finally, the recent establishment of a special authority to implement a State programme on the social and economic life in the Northern territories is appreciated.
4. The entry of the Russian Federation into the Council of Europe, which became official in February 1996, is noted. It is hoped that the Russian Federation will soon ratify the Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and will accept its procedure for receiving individual petitions. The recent drafting of two regional human rights conventions, including one on the rights of minorities, in the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is also a positive initiative.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention
5. The difficulties facing the Russian Federation in the present period of transition and in a climate of social change and deep economic crises are taked into account. It is also noted that the Russian Federation is a large multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. The factual situation of minorities has also to be taken into account; some of them possess their own state hood, and are represented by subjects of the Federation whereas others are dispersed all over the country. In respect of the members of the latter groups the full implementation of the Convention may require particular efforts. Finally, it is understood that the establishment and practical application of a new democratic and non-discriminatory political, economic and social framework is a difficult and lengthy process.
D. Principal subjects of concern
6. Concern is raised about the current shortcomings in the general legal national framework for protecting all persons against discriminatory practices. Article 19 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which provides for equality of rights regardless of "race, nationality, language, origin or other circumstances", is not broad enough to be regarded as a full implementation of the prohibition of racial discrimination required by the Convention. It is further noted with concern that the legislation necessary for the implementation of article 19 of the Constitution and other constitutional provisions designed to protect the rights of minorities have not yet been fully adopted or effectively implemented.
7. Several minority and indigenous groups have no access to education in which they can use their own language. When they deal with administrative and judicial matters, they are frequently precluded from using their own language.
8. The absence of effective measures for the protection and preservation of the traditional ways of life and the right to land use of the people of the Northern Territories is also a cause for concern although the need for the improvement of their economic, social and cultural situation has been recognised.
9. The concrete implementation of the principles and provisions of the Convention remains weak, especially at the regional and local levels. Concern is particularly raised regarding the application of article 2, and article 4 of the Convention.
10. The report contains very limited information on the right to security of person (article 5 (b) of the Convention), the right to freedom of movement (article 5 (d) (i) of the Convention) and non-discrimination as regard the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, referred to in article 5 (e) of the Convention.
11. The increase in racist positions associated with nationalist movements such as the National Republican Party, is of grave concern. Equally the increase in racist attitudes within the population or of local authorities directed against Caucasians, especially Chechens among others, also gives cause for concern, as do indications for antisemitism within part of the population.
12. The use of excessive and disproportionate force in suppressing the attempted secession in Chechnya, resulting in unnecessary civilian casualties, is a matter of very grave concern. Also the reports of arbitrary arrests, illtreatment of detainees, excessive destruction of civilian property and pillage in Chechnya give rise to concern.
13. In particular the reports concerning the situation in the so-called filtration camps give rise to grave concern. It is to be deplored that representatives of humanitarian organisations, such as the Committee of the Red Cross have not been permitted to visit such camps.
14. The situation existing in Ingushetia and North Ossetia is a further matter of deep concern. Large numbers of Ingush exciles are denied by North Ossetian authorities the right to return freely to their regions of origin, in particular the Prigoradnyi district in spite of the law on Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples. The Ingush population has also directly and indirectly suffered from the Chechen conflict
E. Suggestions and recommendations
15. The Committee strongly recommends that the National Parliament urgently complete and adopt all announced acts and laws concerning human rights, especially the draft law on national and cultural autonomy. The laws on the usage of minorities languages should be completed on the various legislative levels and fully implemented. The Committee also suggests that the State Party consider ratifying ILO Convention No. 169.
16. The State Party should take all appropriate measures to ensure the promotion of minority and indigenous people's languages. The Committee recommends that education programmes be provided in the appropriate languages.
17. The Committee recommends that special attention be paid to the minority and indigenous groups living in the Northern Territories by taking appropriate and effective measures to promote and protect their rights, especially the rights to use and exploit the land where they are living and to live in their own cultural environment.
18. The Committee recommends that, when appropriate, the State Party takes special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of less developed groups within the Federation in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Convention.
19. The Committee strongly recommends that the Government take concrete and appropriate measures to outlaw and combat all organisations and political groups and their respective activities that promote racist ideas or objectives, as referred to in article 4 of the Convention.
20. The Committee also strongly recommends the State Party to carry out the decision of the Constitutional Court to invalidate the permit system effectively.
21. The Committee recommends the State Party enhances the effective protection against any acts of racial discrimination through the competent national courts in accordance with article 6 of the Convention by strengthening the court system, the independence of the judiciary and the confidence of the population therein. The Committee further recommends the training of judges, lawyers and magistrates in human rights. This type of training should also be provided to law enforcement personnel and the military in accordance with General Recommendation XIII of the Committee.
22. The Committee strongly recommends the State Party to urgently take all measures to restore peace in Chechnya and to ensure full protection of human rights in the region. It further strongly recommends that the Government take all steps to ensure the full respect of fundamental human rights in the region, without discrimination. The Committee reaffirms that persons responsible for massive, gross and systematic human rights violations, and gross violations of international humanitarian law, should be held responsible and prosecuted.
23. The Committee recommends that the State Party guarantee the rights of all victims, especially refugees, of the conflict in Ingushetia and North Ossetia and to provide in its next report information on the human rights situation in Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. .
24. The Committee invites the State Party to provide, in its next report, further information on the breakdown by percentage of all ethnic groups of the population.
25. More information is also requested in the next report, on the amount of complaints and court cases related to racial discrimination that have been registered recently by the State Party, on the respective decisions and judgments taken, and on the implementation of article 7 of the Convention.
26. The Committee recommends that the State Party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted by the fourteenth meeting of States Parties.
27. The Committee suggests that the State Party ensure the dissemination of its periodic report, and of the concluding observations adopted by the Committee. The accepted procedure of individual communications under article 14 of the Convention should be made widely known in the country.
28. The Committee recommends that the State Party's next periodic report, due on 5 March 1996, be a comprehensive one and that the State aprty address all the concerns expressed in these observations.