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Russian Federation urged to review and implement anti-discrimination laws

15 March 2004

In 2003 not a single court case based on issues of discrimination was won in the Russian Federation, a fact which has led some minority rights advocates to suggest that existing laws and judicial procedures are ineffective and inadequate. According to representatives of minority rights organizations, discrimination against groups such as the Roma is commonplace and reforms to domestic laws are necessary in order to bring them into line with ant-discrimination provisions which exist under international laws and treaties, to which the Russian Federation is a party.

According to representatives of the NGOs ‘Roma Ural’ based in Yekaterinburg, and the Caucasian Refugee Council based in Vladikavkaz, Russia, action is required by the government to demonstrate that existing laws are more than simply symbolic attempts to portray government concern over discrimination. According to these organizations, there is no notion of ‘discrimination’ in the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Article 136 of Criminal Code, ‘Violation of Equality of Human and Citizen Rights and Freedoms’ fails to provide effective defence of these rights since its content is only ‘declarative’. A representative of Roma Ural, stated: ‘It is so wide that if the discrimination of human and minority rights took place, it is impossible to provide their defence in the court’.

Highlighting the situation in the North Caucasus, it was pointed out that the Federal Government has done little to improve the living conditions of internally displaced people from the Ossetian-Inguish conflict in 1992, and those who were displaced due to the Chechen conflict. Recommendations made to the Working Group and the government of the Russian Federation included the implementation of measures to address this issue and to ensure conflict prevention on the territory of North Ossetia-Alania. Amending the provisions of Article 136 of the Criminal Code to comply with international law, it was suggested, would ensure that this law could be used effectively in practice in discrimination cases.

Notes for editors

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