Independent Council of Legal ExpertiseMoscow, Russian Federation
Published August 24, 2006
Promoting the rule of law and international human rights standards in Russia
Comprised of more than 40 reform-minded legal scholars and practitioners, the Independent Council of Legal Expertise is dedicated to promoting the rule of law and implementing international human rights standards in Russia.
The Council has become a catalyst for change by providing objective information to decision makers in and out of the government. It is a strong voice for enhancing the independence of the judicial system and developing checks on executive power. Members helped shape the new Constitution, reform the court system, and create new criminal and civil legal codes. A decision by the courts on the illegality of the death penalty was based on appeals prepared by the Council. The right of draftees to refuse to serve on religious grounds was enacted with help from the Council.
The Council has also been active in opposing overly restrictive provisions of the new Russian law regulating non-governmental organizations; it is now working with Moscow-based and regional human rights groups to help them better understand and effectively meet the new law’s requirements.
To date, the Council has trained more than 1,500 jurists and human rights activists from more than 160 Russian cities. It hosts regional seminars for judges and public prosecutors, leading to a deeper understanding of new legislation, human rights issues, and Russia’s international commitments.
It has also been integral in helping to change the opinions of government officials toward human rights. The Council’s recommendations for court reform were approved by the Administration of Russian President Putin.
Given increasing political pressures and soaring real estate prices in Moscow, the Council will use its MacArthur Award to purchase office space.
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