Not GULAG, but right to free choice, labour and social support

27 May 2015
Not GULAG, but right to free choice, labour and social support

Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia Ella Pamfilova, members of the Commissioner’s Office, officials of the Federal Penitentiary Service, Deputy of the State Duma Alexander Khinshtein, and an independent expert Natalia Khutorskaya discussed a range of problems connected with the issues of re-socialisation and labour rehabilitation of convicts.

The discussion took place in the framework of implementation of the President Vladimir Putin’s instruction given by him after the Commissioner’s appeal during their latest meeting.

Ms Pamfilova underlined the need to bring the order, by which convicts are involved in labour, closer to the Labour Code provisions. In particular, it has been suggested that creation of proper living conditions of working convicts be controlled, and the wage rate be not less than a minimum one.

Proposals made by the Commissioner are specified in a new section of the Concept of the Russia’s Correctional System Development till 2020, which was agreed upon with the Ministry of Justice of Russia on 13 May.

Low employment of convicts, i.e. about 30 percent of convicts are able to work, is a serious problem both for the convicts themselves and for victims of crimes.

The minimum amounts paid for labour not only fail to cover the need for essential goods, but also make it impossible to pay out civil obligations and provide financial support to families.

Similar amendments to the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, proposed earlier by Deputy of the State Duma Alexander Khinshtein, provide for an opportunity to employ convicts at some enterprises located far from correctional facilities. Which means that, as before, the convicts will be employed by companies located outside correctional facilities, but restriction to motion of convicts outside the municipal entity where the penal settlement is situated will be cancelled.

These amendments correspond to the effective law of the Russian Federation, according to which a labour of public utility is included in a number of basic means for correction of convicts, and cannot be considered as a forced labour.

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