An initiative group for the organization of a Public Tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity in the Russian Federation was established on 6 March 2008. Its members include human rights advocates Ludmilla Alexeyeva, Valery Abramkin, Andrei Babushkin, Valery Borshchev, Lev Ponomarev, Yuri Samodurov, Mikhail Trepashkin, and Ernst Cherny. The first hearing by the Tribunal is slated for April. We offer the text of the declaration of the Initiative Group and a first draft of the Rules of Procedure of the Tribunal:
Declaration of the initiative group for the organization of a Public Tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity in the Russian FederationThe All-Russian Congress in Defence of Human Rights, which took place in Moscow on 10 December 2007, adopted a decision to create a Public Tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity committed by representatives of the Russian power, first and foremost the siloviki.The need to create a Public Tribunal is brought about by the realities of life today. Russian human rights organizations, regularly receiving a multitude of appeals from citizens on grave and particularly grave crimes committed by representatives of the Russian siloviki structures, has appealed on numerous occasions to the Procuracy-General of the RF, the Investigative Committee under the procuracy of the RF, to other competent organs of power with a demand to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts cited and to punish the guilty. However, not a single such instance has been investigated, and the guilty have not been punished.We assert that the Public Tribunal has to concentrate on two topics.The first topic – the obtaining by human rights advocates of information about torture, and even allegedly murders, of prisoners not investigated by the authorities. Furthermore, according to our information, dozens of colonies have transformed into so-called torture zones, in which prisoners are regularly subjected to collective punishments and torture, while the appeals of the prisoners are not investigated.The second topic – the numerous facts of abductions of young people in the republics of the North Caucasus by representatives of the siloviki structures. Many in so doing disappear without a trace. In those isolated instances when abducted young people remain among the living and come to be at liberty, they testify to torture and beatings and the participation in these actions of representatives of the siloviki structures.The principal objective of the Public Tribunal – is to bring public attention to the enumerated topics, achieve an official investigation and the punishment of the guilty.The first session of the Public Tribunal is planned for April 2008.Members of the Initiative Group: Ludmilla Alexeeva, Valery Abramkin, Andrei Babushkin, Valery Borshchev, Lev Ponomarev, Yuri Samodurov, Mikhail Trepashkin, and Ernst Cherny”.Rules of Procedure of the Public Tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity committees in the system of the execution of punishment and in the system of the law-enforcement organs of the Russian Federation (preliminary)The Rules of Procedure of the Public Tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity committed in the system of the execution of punishment and in the system of the law-enforcement organs of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as the Rules of Procedure) shall determine the procedure, objectives, and tasks of the activity of the Public Tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity committed in the system of the execution of punishment in the system of the law-enforcement organs of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal).1. The objective of the activity of the Tribunal shall be the initiating of legislative, juridical, and political decisions leading to:- the cessation in the system of the execution of punishment and in the system of the law-enforcement organs of the Russian Federation of the commission of crimes against humanity,- the liquidation of the institutional causes of the gross and mass violation of human rights in relation to prisoners, detainees, and suspects,- the bringing to liability of concrete guilty officials,- the introduction of modern-day humanistic approaches in the Russian penitentiary and law-enforcement system.2. The task of the Tribunal shall be:- the gathering and checking of information on the observance of human rights and liberties in places of deprivation of liberty and in institutions of the law-enforcement organs,- the generalization and analysis of facts obtained,- the bringing of the facts and conclusions of the Tribunal to the knowledge of the public, supervisory organs, the legislative and executive power.3. By crimes against humanity, the Tribunal, in the given situation, understands grave and particularly grave crimes committed by representatives of the state siloviki structures and having a systemic character, including murders, enslavement, exiling (deportation), torture, rapes and other atrocities committed in relation to citizens, first and foremost citizens found in places of the deprivation of liberty.4. The Tribunal shall work continuously on a permanent basis; its activity shall be determined by a Board confirming a plan of work, the forms and priorities thereof.5. The Tribunal is being created by civic human-rights organizations which have committed themselves to allocate representatives for work within the composition of the Board of the Tribunal, provide the Tribunal with materials, to the extent possible, to support its work organizationally and informationally.6. The Tribunal shall be supported by civic organizations irrespective of the country of registration, which send their representatives with the right of a consultative vote to the Board of the Tribunal, take upon themselves obligations with respect to the moral and informational support of the Tribunal, sign its verdicts and appeals.7. The Board of the Tribunal shall form the Jury of the Tribunal, into the competence of which shall enter the issuance of verdicts, as well as organize Open Hearings and working sessions, the calling of witnesses and experts, shall implement the informing of the public and the organs of power of the results of the work of the Tribunal, its conclusions and decisions.8. The principal form of work of the Tribunal shall be Open Hearings, having the form of adversarial interaction between representatives of the interested parties with the participation of the experts of the Tribunal.In those instances when what is being spoken of is the testimony of persons having concerns for their own safety, part of the Hearings may take place in closed-door regime.Invited in obligatory procedure to hearings shall be representatives of the interested agencies (the Ministry of Justice, the FSIN [Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments], the Procuracy-General, the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs), the FSB (Federal Security Service]), representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the RF, the Council on Human Rights under the President, the State Duma and the Federation Council.9. On the basis of the results of the hearings, the Jury shall adopt Verdicts that state the facts of gross, mass, systematic violations of the rights and lawful interests of prisoners, and determining the concrete guilty parties and the concrete causes (legal, administrative, socio-psychological) of what had taken place. Verdicts, as a rule, shall be accompanied by Interlocutory Orders in relation to the organs of state and officials whose actions or inactions had made possible the criminal actions indicated in the verdict.10. On the basis of the Verdicts, the Board in the name of the Tribunal shall adopt Appeals to the public and organs of state, as well as declarations. Appeals shall contain calls and recommendations. Declarations shall express the civic and moral position of the Tribunal.