02 november, 2013

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A step away from an amnesty

A step away from an amnesty
Discussions around the amnesty to be implemented in connection with the 30th anniversary of the Constitution have been on for several months. In expectation of the official document, experts formulated a whole variety of proposals regarding who deserves leniency in the first turn.
“Amnesties are a rare thing in our country.  In my opinion, there is nothing bad in state’s showing humanism and lenity. Another question is that there are lots of discussions  and arguments regarding who should be let out and who should stay in prison,” Chairman of the Commission on citizens’ security and interaction with law enforcement and judicial bodies Anatoly Kucherena said on November 1 opening a field-specific hearing at the Civic Chamber.
In his opinion, it is very important that the amnesty should be “fair and honest” not only from the inmates’ point of view, but also from the society’s one.
One of the cornerstones of the discussion on the upcoming amnesty is whether or not people convicted for economic and corruption crimes shall be released.
“People do not believe in punishment of people convicted under these articles. If this project is implemented, the worst society’s suspicions will get confirmed,” Professor of the Russian MVD Administration Academy Pyotr Skoblikov said.
“Corrupt officials, as well as persons sentenced for terrorism or crimes committed against minors and drug dealers shall not be liberated under the amnesty,” CC Member Vladimir Slepak pointed out.
However, many experts believe that certain general grounds and principles should be formulated in the course of preparations for the amnesty. “The most important thing is not to let using the amnesty for political goals; it should not be tailored for specific individuals,” CC Member Georgy Fedorov is sure.
Disabled people, mothers of minor children, and first-time convicts sentenced for non-grave crimes deserve leniency in the first turn.
“Young people who had made a false step for the first time shall get a chance to get free,” Civic Chamber Member Bishop Sergey Ryakhovsky proposed.
“People who had been sentenced for using drugs for the first time shall be subject to the amnesty. I am not speaking here about drug barons and drug dealers, about those who had committed these crimes intentionally. I have in mind those boys and girls who had made one false step in their lives,” he said.
Leader of the Project Vladimir Osechkin proposed to expand the amnesty on internal punishments of convicts. “We suggested in our draft of the amnesty a proposal to exclude indications of punishments, disciplinary cells, and isolation wards from their cases. If this is done, many will get a chance for release on parole,” the human rights activist said.
Civic Chamber Member, Chair of the POC Council Maria Kannabikh drew attention to the fact that it is not enough to just prepare an amnesty draft and identify who should be let out of prisons. It is also important to think about the adaptation process for former convicts.
“We must get ready for the amnesty with all seriousness. If it is a broad one, how shall we administer the inflow of people who will come back from prisons? Many of them are sick, have no employment, housing, families. Where will they live; who will take care of them? We must think about these matters and start to adapt people yet while at penal colonies,” CC Member Maria Kannabikh is sure.
Let us remind that by the most conservative estimate, tens of thousands of inmates will get free in December. It must be said that the number of convicts, according to the Directorate of Administrating Punishment FSIN Chief Sergey Yesipov, the number of people in prisons went down by 160 thousand in the last three years anyway. In his opinion, this is stipulated by the fact that “court practices tend to change and not always are now linked with deprivation of freedom.”
People at the CC Commission on public security informed that after the hearing all recommendations proposed by public activists will be sent to the President of Russia, the State Duma and the Government.

RF Civic Chamber Media–Office


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