1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report
of the Russian Federation (CCPR/C/84/Add.2) at its 1426th to 1429th
meetings (see CCPR/C/SR.1426 to 1429), held on 17 and 18 July 1995,
and adopted22/ the following comments:
2. The Committee welcomes the fourth periodic report of the Russian
Federation and views with satisfaction its dialogue with the delegation,
particularly the delegation's willingness to engage in a frank discussion
with the Committee and the detail in which its written and additional
oral questions were addressed. The Committee regrets that, while the
report was mainly drafted on the basis of legal measures enacted or
under consideration, insufficient information was provided regarding
the actual enjoyment of some of the rights guaranteed in the Covenant.
The Committee appreciates that this situation was partly remedied through
the oral responses to the Committee's questions, which allowed it to
obtain a clearer view of the overall situation in the State party.
2. Factors and difficulties affecting the application of the Covenant
3. The Committee notes that it is necessary to overcome
vestiges of the totalitarian past and that much remains to be done to
strengthen democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law.
This has created a legal vacuum in certain areas, in which the principles
set forth in the Constitution are not implemented by corresponding laws
and regulations. The Committee notes that the enactment of new laws
is being undertaken by the Government but their consideration by two
Chambers of the Federal Assembly prior to promulgation is generally
a slow process.
4. The Committee is aware of economic difficulties facing
the State party, which inevitably affect the application of the Covenant.
3. Positive aspects
5. The Committee expresses its satisfaction as to the
fundamental and positive changes which have recently taken place in
the Russian Federation. These changes will create a better political,
constitutional and legal framework for the full implementation of the
rights enshrined in the Covenant.
6. The Committee welcomes the new Constitution of 1993,
which gives legal recognition to the concept of human rights and freedoms
of the individual. The Committee considers that chapter 2 of the Constitution,
which enumerates the rights and liberties of the individuals, conforms
to many of the basic rights provided under the Covenant.
7. The Committee welcomes the provisions of article 15,
paragraph 4, of the Constitution, which, together with the limiting
provision of article 125, paragraph 6, establishes that international
treaties, including the Covenant, are part of the Russian legal system
and superior to domestic law. It further welcomes the inclusion of article
17, paragraph 1, which stipulates that the basic rights and liberties,
in conformity with the commonly recognized principles and norms of international
law, shall be recognized and guaranteed by the State party under the
Constitution, the recognition in the Constitution of the right to apply
to international bodies when domestic remedies are exhausted and the
written and oral affirmations that the provisions of the Covenant are
directly invocable in domestic courts of law.
8. In this context, the Committee also welcomes the fact
that the Russian Federation is party to the Optional Protocol to the
9. The Committee welcomes the progress made towards democracy
since the consideration of the third periodic report. It also welcomes
the promulgation of a number of legal instruments aimed at guaranteeing
human rights for all persons in the territory of the State party, including
the new Civil Code and Criminal Code. It further welcomes the draft
law aimed at a comprehensive reform of the judicial process and the
Code of Criminal Procedures currently in the drafting stage and notes
with appreciation that the right of all persons whose rights are violated
to have access to judicial recourse has been legally established.
10. The Committee welcomes the establishment of several
bodies charged with the protection of human rights, including the Office
of the Human Rights Commissioner under the State Duma and the Presidential
Human Rights Commission, as well as the newly established Commission
for Human Rights of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
11. The Committee welcomes the Government's assurances
that a systematic review of persons placed in psychiatric facilities
under previous regimes will be carried out and trusts that all those
found to be placed in such facilities without due cause will be released.
12. The Committee welcomes the special legislation enacted
to provide compensation to victims of the events of October 1993.
4. Principal subjects of concern
13. The Committee is concerned that the profound legislative
changes taking place within the State party have not been matched by
the actual protection of human rights at the implementation level. Specifically,
it regrets that many of the rights established under the Constitution
have not been put into effect through the enactment of implementing
laws and regulations and that the relationship of the various bodies
entrusted with the protection of human rights has not been clearly defined.
In this connection, it regrets that the responsibilities of the Human
Rights Commissioner, although understood to be broad in nature and to
include the power to investigate complaints of human rights violations,
to bring cases to the Constitutional Court whenever Constitutional rights
are infringed and to take legislative initiatives, are not specified
in the Constitution and have not yet been legally defined in subsequent
legislation. In addition, the responsibilities of the Procurator's Office
with respect to the protection of human rights would appear to coincide
in many respects with those of the Human Rights Commissioner. In relation
to these bodies, it is not clear why the Presidential Human Rights Commission
operating directly under the President, who is personally responsible
as guarantor of human rights under the Constitution, is empowered only
with recommendatory functions, or what mechanisms are in place to ensure
that presidential decrees conform with the Covenant.
14. The Committee is concerned that, despite guarantees
of equality in the Constitution and in labour legislation, the de facto
situation of women is one of continuing inequality. The failure to ensure
equal remuneration for work of comparable worth and the persistence
of attitudes and practices which impose child-rearing and other domestic
responsibilities entirely on women contribute to this inequality and
to discrimination in the workplace. The Committee is especially alarmed
at the extent of rape and domestic violence and the inadequate efforts
made by the authorities to deal with this problem. It is also alarmed
at the high incidence of unemployment among women.
15. Although the Committee notes that the draft Criminal
Code before the Federal Assembly would reduce the number of crimes that
may result in the imposition of the death penalty, it is still concerned
at the wide range of crimes still punishable by such penalty. Moreover,
the Committee notes that while the number of persons actually executed
has declined dramatically since 1993, sentencing continues, which has
resulted in a large and growing number of persons on death row.
16. The Committee expresses deep concern over the practice
of pre-trial detention and over the fact that temporary detention has
been extended from 10 to 30 days in certain cases. It is concerned by
the extent of the Procurator's competence to decide on matters relating
to arrest or detention which cannot be challenged by the person concerned
before a court. Under article 9, paragraph 3, of the Covenant, the detention
of persons before they are granted a trial should not be the norm and,
when it occurs, persons so detained should be granted a trial within
a reasonable time or be released. The Committee is concerned that pre-trial
detention is practised, not only in cases of serious criminal charges
but more so on misdemeanour charges and frequently for unreasonably
long periods of time, and that no effective mechanism exists for monitoring
17. The Committee further expresses grave concern over
the lack of a monitoring mechanism for penitentiary facilities to ensure
humane treatment of detainees and prisoners. In this regard, it deplores
the cruel, inhumane and degrading conditions that persist in many detention
centres and penitentiary facilities and condemns the use of food deprivation
18. The Committee expresses concern about the lack of
independence and efficiency of the judiciary and the long delays in
the administration of justice, which do not conform with the requirements
of both articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant, and notes in that regard
that the judicial system in the Russian Federation cannot be effective
to ensure protection of rights until there is a sufficient number of
well-trained and qualified judges and lawyers.
19. The Committee is concerned that actions may continue
which violate the right to protection from unlawful or arbitrary interference
with privacy, family, home or correspondence. It is concerned that the
mechanisms to intrude into private telephone communication continue
to exist, without a clear legislation setting out the conditions for
legitimate interferences with privacy and providing for safeguards against
20. Although federal law has provided for the abolition
of the propiska (residence permit) system, the Committee is concerned
that at regional and local levels, the system is still applied in practice,
thus violating not only the Constitution, but also article 12 of the
Covenant. It expresses further concern that the most important legal
restriction on the right to leave the country is still cast in terms
of a State secret. This does not correspond with the requirements of
article 12, paragraph 3, of the Covenant and the Committee deplores,
in that regard, the resistance to date in bringing the legislation in
conformity with the Covenant. The Committee further regrets that all
individuals not having yet performed their national service are excluded
in principle from enjoying their right to leave the country.
21. The Committee is concerned that conscientious objection
to military service, although recognized under article 59 of the Constitution,
is not a practical option under Russian law and takes note in this regard
of the draft law on alternative service before the Federal Assembly.
It expresses its concern at the possibility that such alternative service
may be made punitive, either in nature or in length of service. The
Committee is also seriously concerned at the allegations of widespread
cruelty and ill-treatment of young conscript-soldiers.
22. The Committee is concerned at reports of growing number
of homeless and abandoned children in need of measures of protection.
23. The Committee expresses its concern that the limited
definition of the term "national minorities", which serves
as the basis for much of the legislation in the State party concerning
the rights of persons belonging to minorities, does not give protection
to all persons referred to in article 27 of the Covenant. It is also
concerned at reports of harassment shown towards persons belonging to
minority groups from the Caucasus region, in the form of searches, beatings,
arrests and deportation.
24. The Committee deeply regrets the lack of familiarity
of law enforcement and prison officers with the guarantees provided
in the new Constitution and with international human rights standards
under the Covenant.
25. The Committee expresses concern over the jurisdiction
of the military courts in civil cases. Persons detained by members of
the armed forces are said to be able to raise complaints before the
Military Procurator's Office in charge of the detention centre where
they were held. This would appear to create a situation in which the
army is entrusted with the judgement and sentencing of the crimes committed
by its own members. The Committee is concerned that such a situation
may cause miscarriages of justice, particularly in the light of the
Government's acknowledgement that the army, even at the highest levels,
is not familiar with international human rights law, including the Covenant.
26. The Committee expresses deep concern at the high number
of refugees following the events that occurred in North Ossetia in 1992
and at the difficult conditions faced by these displaced persons in
the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia, as well as at the numerous
incidents that occurred during their attempts to return to their homeland.
27. With reference to the specific situation in Chechnya,
the Committee expresses concern that article 4 of the Covenant, which
specifies the provisions that are non-derogable even in times of public
emergency, has not been complied with. It maintains that this article
is applicable to the situation in Chechnya, where the use of weapons
by combatants has led to the loss of life and deprivation of freedom
of large numbers of persons, regardless of the fact that a state of
emergency has not been formally declared.
28. The Committee deplores the excessive and disproportionate
use of force by Russian forces in Chechnya, indicating grave violation
of human rights. It further deplores the fact that no one has been made
responsible for the inhumane treatment of prisoners and other detained
persons, that investigations on charges of human rights violations by
Russian forces, including killing of civilians, have so far been inadequate,
that civilian installations such as schools and hospitals were destroyed
by government forces, and that a large number of civilians have been
killed or displaced as a consequence of the destruction of their homes.
29. The Committee expresses deep concern about the large
number of reported cases of torture, ill treatment of the person and
arbitrary detention in "reception centres" or "filtration
camps", which were originally established to determine the identities
of captured combatants but are reported to accommodate large numbers
of civilians as well. It deplores the maltreatment of detainees in these
centres and is concerned that the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) has not been given access to all such camps.
30. The Committee is concerned that, as a result of the
violent excesses of recent developments in Chechnya, the level of confidence
of the people in the reconstruction efforts by the local authorities
and the attempts to bring relief to human rights violations is extremely
5. Suggestions and recommendations
31. The Committee recommends that the relationship between
the various bodies charged with the protection of human rights be clearly
defined and coordinated and that the existence and functions of these
bodies be widely publicized. The Committee further recommends that a
mechanism be clearly established to ensure conformity of all presidential
decrees and laws with the provisions of the Covenant and other international
human rights instruments to which the State is party.
32. The Committee recommends that the State party review
and include information in its next periodic report on the procedures
established to ensure compliance with the views and recommendations
adopted by the Committee under the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant,
also bearing in mind the obligations under article 2 of the Covenant.
33. The Committee recommends that greater efforts be made
to collect information on the situation of women and the effects on
them of the structural political, economic and social changes taking
place. On this basis, the Government should initiate or strengthen programmes
aimed at providing assistance to women in difficult circumstances, including
unemployed women, victims of domestic violence and victims of rape,
with a view to ensuring their equality before the law and the equal
protection of the law. In particular, it should consider allocating
responsibility for that purpose to an appropriate high-level governmental
34. The Committee urges the Government to reduce substantially
the number of crimes for which the death penalty may be imposed, in
accordance with article 6 of the Covenant, with a view to its eventual
35. The Committee recommends that the treatment of persons
deprived of their liberty, whether in detention centres or in penitentiary
facilities, be effectively monitored. In this connection, it strongly
recommends the adoption of new rules and regulations that comply fully
with articles 7, 9, 10 and 14 of the Covenant and the United Nations
Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form
of Detention or Imprisonment and that the texts of all prison rules
and orders and international norms on prison administration be made
public and accessible. The Committee further recommends that priority
be given to the establishment of the Visitors' Committee for the correctional
institutions of the Federation and that legislation on the judicial
review of arrest and detention be urgently passed in compliance with
article 9, paragraph 3, of the Covenant, and article 22, paragraph 2,
of the Constitution. It urges that the Government should refrain from
placing first-time, non-violent and petty offenders in detention centres,
and give consideration to various other practical measures designed
to reduce the overcrowding of pre-trial detention centres, particularly
the greater use of release pending trial. It also calls for an immediate
end to the practice of food deprivation as punishment in prisons and
encourages the Government's initiatives to institute alternative forms
36. The Committee stresses the need for a prompt enactment
of the legislation on the judiciary and urges that this legislation
fully incorporate the essential guarantees for the independence of the
judiciary, including the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence
of the Judiciary. The Committee recommends that efforts be made to make
the Covenant and other international human rights norms as widely known
as possible, particularly among the authorities invested with the administration
of justice, law enforcement and prison officers but also among the general
public. It recommends that the State party avail itself of the technical
cooperation services of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights.
37. The Committee recommends that the abolition of the
propiska system be carried out all over the country without exceptions.
Further steps should be taken to bring the law concerning the right
to leave the country in full line with the State party's obligations
under article 12, paragraphs 2 and 3, of the Covenant and, in particular,
to remove restrictions to knowledge of State secrets. The Committee
urges that all regional and local authorities be made to comply with
the Federal policy of abolishing the propiska system (i.e. the
system of "internal passes" or "passports").
38. The Committee urges that legislation be passed on
the protection of privacy, as well as that strict and positive action
be taken to prevent violations of the right to protection from unlawful
or arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence.
39. The Committee urges that stringent measures be adopted
to ensure an immediate end to mistreatment and abuse of army recruits
by their officers and fellow soldiers. It further recommends that every
effort be made to ensure that reasonable alternatives to military service
be made available that are not punitive in nature or in length of service.
It urges that all charges brought against conscientious objectors to
military service be dropped.
40. The Committee recommends that national legislation
be amended to reflect the broad concept of minorities contained in articles
2, 26 and 27 of the Covenant, which prohibit discrimination on the basis
of race, colour, sex, opinion or other status, and further protect the
rights not only of "national minorities" but also of ethnic,
religious and linguistic minorities.
41. The Committee urges that appropriate and effective
measures be adopted to enable all persons displaced as a consequence
of the events that occurred in North Ossetia in 1992 to return to their
42. The Committee firmly urges that the serious violations
of human rights which occurred and continue to occur in Chechnya be
vigorously and immediately investigated, the perpetrators punished and
the victims compensated. It urges the Government to ensure that all
persons held in detention are held for legitimate cause, for a reasonable
period of time and under humane conditions, in conformity with the State
party's obligations under the Covenant.
43. The Committee, noting with appreciation the Government's
assurances that ICRC will be granted access to all detention camps,
urges that such access be granted immediately in the region of Chechnya
and neighbouring republics, to allow ICRC not only to monitor the treatment
of detainees but also to provide supplies and services.
44. The Committee recommends that, in order to address
the lack of confidence in the local government authorities, the Government
consider inviting a greater international presence, including from the
Centre for Human Rights, to assist the Special Multilateral Commission
established to investigate recent events in Chechnya in improving the
effectiveness of human rights investigations and ensuring fairness of
trials until such time as the judiciary is functioning properly. Such
a measure would make clear that the Government is committed to ending
human rights violations both by submitting itself to international scrutiny
and by drawing on international expertise toward this end.
45. The Committee urges that adequate measures be adopted
to alleviate the conditions of all displaced persons following the fighting
in Chechnya, including measures aimed at facilitating their return to
their towns and villages.
46. The Committee recommends that education in human rights
be included in school and university curricula and that its comments
be widely disseminated and incorporated into the curricula of all human
rights training programmes organized for law-enforcement officers and
22/ At its 1440th meeting (fifty-fourth session),
held on 26 July 1995.