Staunton, March 22 – Almost one in every three Russians – some 160,000 people –now behind bars was unjustly convicted and denied justice on appeal, an indictment of the entire Russian justice system, according to Yevgeny Myslovsky, a law professor who is a member of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council.
He made that statement during the course of Social Chamber roundtable this week discussing his proposal at the end of last year to create a Russian Human Rights Court that would give Russians a place to appeal other than as now the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (newizv.ru/news/society/22-03-2021/tsifra-dnya-160-000-chelovek-v-mestah-zaklyucheniya-sidyat-ni-za-chto).
Russia has a Supreme Court, a Constitutional Court, a Human Rights Council, and a Social Observers Commission, the legal activist himself a member of the Human Rights Council said, but they do little to correct this systemic failing, an indication that “something is very seriously wrong in the system as a whole.”
Last winter, Myslovsky said that “what is now taking place in the courts can only be called justice with difficulty.” Prosecutors bring charges in an arbitrary fashion, judges convict without a consideration of the evidence. And appeals courts often refuse to consider and rarely reverse courts of first instance.
All the attempts of the Presidential Human Rights Council to “get a reaction from the Prosecutor general, the Investigation Committee, and the Supreme Court” regarding obvious miscarriages of justice “have been ignored.” And Myslovsky adds: “If this is what happens to our appeals, you can imagine what happens to the appeals of ordinary citizens.”
He concludes his remarks: Those involved with the criminal justice system in Russian today face a problem known “since the times of Ancient Rome” – “’who will guard the guardians?’ And now the only outside guard, unfortunately is the European Human Rights Court.”
After Myslovsky made this proposal, Vladimir Putin indicated that he supported it, although most people at the same assumed that he was doing so to take Russia out of the European legal field rather than to promote justice in Russia. That may be true, but the law professor’s words suggest that at least some in Russia hope for a different outcome.