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Russia: Public Control over Penitentiaries Introduced

(July 2, 2008) On June 10, 2008, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed into law the bill on public control for the implementation of human rights in penal institutions and legal aid to the incarcerated. The Law allows members of non-government organizations to visit penitentiaries, review the living conditions there, and meet the prisoners. For this purpose, special commissions consisting of from five to twenty members of different public organizations will be created in Russia's constituent components. The members of the commissions will be permitted to visit jails and prisons located in their territory and enter all rooms or offices on the prison grounds while escorted by members of the prison administration. The membership of the commissions will be renewed every two years, and the final composition of each territorial commission will be approved by the administration of the Russian Federation President. Monitoring of each institution will be conducted according to rules developed by the government agency in charge of specific types of prisons. In Russia, these are the police, the Department of Justice, and the Ministry of Defense. (Mike Gabrielian, President Helped the Prisoners, GAZETA.RU, June 10, 2008, available at