COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the fourteenth periodic report of the Russian Federation (CERD/C/299/Add.15)
at its 1246th and 1247th meetings, held on 2 and 3 March 1998. At its
1268th meeting, held on 17 March 1998, it adopted the following concluding
2. The Committee commends
the State party for the timely submission of its report, its determination
to report regularly, and for having sent a numerous and high-level delegation
to meet with the Committee, which is an indication of the importance
attached by the Government of the Russian Federation to its obligations
under the Convention. The Committee also appreciates the open and constructive
approach which characterized the dialogue with the delegation, as well
as the additional information provided orally.
3. The Committee notes that
the State party has made an effort to address some of the concerns expressed
by the Committee in its concluding observations in connection with the
twelfth and thirteenth periodic reports. However, the fourteenth report
was rather an updating report focusing on developments that took place
since the consideration of the previous report and not a comprehensive
one, as had been requested by the Committee, and the fourteenth report
also did not fully follow the general guidelines regarding the form
and contents of reports.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
4. It is noted that the
Russian Federation is a large multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural
State composed of more than 176 nationalities and ethnic groups. Political
changes that occurred in the last few years continue to affect the economic
and social situation of the population.
5. Historically, there has
been discrimination against individuals on ethnic grounds. In recent
years inter-ethnic tensions have risen in various parts of the Russian
Federation. In addition, the Russian Federation is a country in transition,
with problems of coordination at the legislative and administrative
C. Positive aspects
6. It is noted with satisfaction
that since the examination of the previous reports, new legislation
has been adopted that completes the provisions of the Constitution guaranteeing
equality of rights and freedoms and prohibiting discrimination. Thus,
a new Penal Code entered into force on 1 January 1997 which made changes
to the penal legislation prohibiting discrimination on any grounds.
Article 282 makes it a criminal offence to engage in deliberate acts
intended to stir up national, racial or religious hatred or discord,
to detract from national honour or dignity, to promote the idea of exclusiveness
or the inferiority of citizens because of their religious beliefs, nationality
or race, or directly or indirectly to restrict the rights of or establish
privileges for citizens because of their race, nationality or attitude
to religion. Article 282 also lays down punishments for such acts. Article
63 lays down the general rule that having "motives of national, racial
or religious hatred or enmity" for committing a crime is an aggravating
7. It is also noted that
the National Cultural Autonomy Act, whose main purpose is to offer the
members of all ethnic communities guarantees of national cultural autonomy,
has entered into force. This Act provides a framework within which cultural
development programmes are being established and an advisory council
on national cultural autonomy has been created. During the period under
review a number of autonomous regional, local and federal cultural entities
have been established.
8. The Outline of Russian
State Policy on Nationalities was adopted in June 1996. This outline
lays down basic principles and approaches for use in addressing problems
in relations between different nationalities, among which is the principle
of equal rights for all ethnic groups. In order to implement the outline
a governmental commission has been established and priority measures
have been adopted.
9. It is also noted that
a number of republics have adopted laws which guarantee the rights of
national minorities, indigenous peoples and small ethnic groups.
10. The State Duma has been
working on a number of important federal laws, inter alia, the
National Minorities Act, the Small Indigenous Groups of the North, Siberia
and the Russian Far East Act, and the Refugees and Displaced Persons
11. It is noted that efforts
are being made to strengthen the court system and the independence of
the judiciary. Thus, the Judicial System Act, which came into force
at the end of 1996, contains guarantees of independence in the administration
of justice. Efforts have also been made in the training of judges in
matters relating to the exercise of citizens' rights and freedoms.
D. Principal subjects of concern
12. Concern is expressed
over the increasing incidence of acts of racial discrimination and inter-ethnic
conflicts that occurred in the State party.
13. The report contains
limited information on the activities of the Prosecutor's Office and
the judiciary to investigate and punish acts of racial discrimination.
The oral information in this respect and the information about reparation
for damages suffered as a result of such discrimination was limited.
14. Despite the efforts
made, shortcomings in the legal framework for protecting all persons
against racial discrimination persist. Thus, national legislation does
not include a definition of racial discrimination along the lines of
article 1 of the Convention. Moreover, neither the Constitution nor
the Penal Code contains provisions giving full effect to article 4 (b)
of the Convention.
15. Concern is expressed
about the situation in Chechnya. It is noted that a number of important
steps have been taken to bring about a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
However, serious human rights violations still take place in this republic.
Persistent efforts towards reconciliation have to be pursued.
E. Suggestions and
16. Although the Constitution
sets up a framework for the protection of individuals against racial
discrimination, it is suggested that further measures be taken in order
to harmonize domestic legislation with the provisions of the Convention.
In this respect the Committee recommends, in particular, that appropriate
measures be taken to outlaw and combat all organizations and political
groups and their activities that promote racist ideas or objectives,
as referred to in article 4 of the Convention. It wishes to receive
further information about the investigation of racial discrimination
by prosecutors and its punishment by the courts.
17. Domestic legislation
should be fully implemented in order to guarantee in practice enjoyment
by everyone of the rights listed in article 5 of the Convention and,
in particular, the rights to freedom of movement and residence and the
right to a nationality.
18. The Committee invites
the State party to provide, in its next report, further information
on the following issues: (a) complaints and court cases related to racial
discrimination including the respective decisions and judgements, in
accordance with article 6 of the Convention; (b) reparation for damages
suffered as a result of discrimination in cases brought before courts;
(c) measures taken by the State party to combat racial prejudice, to
promote understanding among different groups and other issues included
in article 7 of the Convention; (d) development regarding the bills
currently under discussion in the State Duma Committee on Nationalities,
as well as the bill banning the propagation of Fascism; (e) measures
to ensure the adequate development and protection of less developed
groups within the Federation; (f) the situation of Gypsies or Roma;
(g) measures taken against organizations involved in racial propaganda;
(h) the situation of the indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and
the Russian Far East.
19. The Committee recommends
that the bills under discussion in the State Duma aimed at ensuring
equality and non-discrimination on racial grounds, as well as the draft
plan of action to put into effect the Outline of the State Policy on
Nationalities, include means of supervision in which the groups intended
to benefit are represented.
20. Increased attention
should be given to programmes intended to improve relations between
ethnic groups as well as to ensure the adequate development and protection
of less developed groups, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2,
of the Convention.
21. The training of judges
and law enforcement officials in matters relating to the exercise of
individuals' rights and freedoms and, in particular, on the right not
to be discriminated against on racial grounds should be continued and
22. Efforts aimed at strengthening
the court system and the independence of the judiciary should continue.
23. Regarding the indigenous
peoples, the Committee recommends that the State party consider ratifying
ILO Convention No. 169.
24. The Committee recommends
that further measures be taken in order to provide minorities and indigenous
groups with elementary education in their own languages.
25. The Committee recommends
that the State party reinforce its measures to protect human rights
in Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. Measures should be taken
in particular to ensure that serious breaches of international humanitarian
law do not remain unpunished, that the victims are afforded just and
adequate reparation, and to ensure normal conditions of life and return
for displaced persons.
26. The Committee suggests
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted at the 14th Meeting of States Parties.
27. The Committee suggests
that the State party address all the points raised in connection with
the fourteenth report and ensure the dissemination of the report and
the concluding observations adopted by the Committee. The accepted procedure
for individual communications under article 14 of the Convention should
be made widely known in the State party in the appropriate languages.
28. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next report, due on 6 March 1998, be a comprehensive
one and follows the guidelines regarding the form and contents of reports.
It should also address all the points raised in the present observations.