On 26 September, Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia Ella Pamfilova arrived in St Petersburg on a working visit, where she took part in the work of the coordination council of commissioners for human rights in the North-Western Federal District (NWFD).
The commissioners and representatives of non-commercial organisations from eleven territorial entities of the RF discussed prospects for development of the federal legislation on the status of the commissioner for human rights in Russian regions, problems in the work of regional human rights institutes, and met with representatives of public organisations.
Ms Pamfilova said that at present a package of amendments to the constitutional law On the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation was being prepared, aimed at consolidating the institute of regional commissioners. The Commissioner expressed her confidence that the effect from regional commissioners’ actions depends not only on their own efforts, but also on the presence of norms regulating their operating procedures and ensuring their independence from other state authorities and officials.
The Commissioner Ella Pamfilova also participated in the final conference Development of Constructive Interaction between Public and State Human Rights Organisations in the North-Western Federal District. At the conference, representatives of humanitarian and politological centre Strategia provided their analysis of the current cooperation between commissioners and non-profit organisations, following the results of ten expert missions made by them to the NWFD regions. Presentation of a web portal aimed at developing communication among state and public human rights organisations was made as well.
In addition, Ms Pamfilova met with the city media and human rights defenders. Among main topics there were violations in the election campaign, situation with some NCOs from St Petersburg being entered into the “foreign agents” registry, problems of intolerance and homophobia which had been faced by the organisers of and participants in the social and cultural human rights festival QueerFest, and etc.
Ms Pamfilova, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, underscored, “I may not share your views, but if your rights are infringed, I will defend them. Our rights and freedoms constitute the quality of our lives.”
An initiative group representing the Union of Journalists of St Petersburg and Leningrad Region provided to Ms Pamfilova an analysis report on the federal laws adopted for mass media and restricting the freedom of speech. The issues of the report were the out-of-court blocking of websites, amendments to the Criminal Code and some legislative legal acts of the RF related to criminal prosecution for slander, amendments to the Civil Code prohibiting distribution of personal data in media outlets. A thorough legal assessment of these acts will be held on the part of the Commissioner.
Ms Pamfilova also held a series of informal meetings, including one with a director and public figure Alexander Sokurov.