When people are incarcerated, they become particularly vulnerable because they are under the total control of the state. According to the Federal penitentiary service, more than half a million people are held in Federal penitentiary institutions. According to the Investigative Committee, almost 6.5 thousand complaints of violence in prisons have been received from prisoners over the past four years. Ordinary citizens do not have access to closed institutions of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and do not know what is happening there. This is why the work of members of Public Monitoring Commissions that monitor the observance of human rights in places of detention is so important.
Members of Public Monitoring Commissions are representatives of the society who speak about the problems of prisoners. They make sure that there is no violence, bullying or torture in places of detention and the conditions of detention are human. Normal treatment of people in places of detention is an important principle of a democratic society.
The composition of Public Monitoring Commissions in each region is approved by the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation for a period of three years, and each member of the PMC receives a mandate. If before the foundation of Public Monitoring Commissions, the admission of citizens to places of detention was a privilege of the head of the FSIN institutions, now it is a duty. Regardless of the desire of the Federal penitentiary service or the Ministry of Internal Affairs, members of Public Monitoring Commissions have the opportunity to visit places of detention.
Members of Public Monitoring Commissions are not always human rights defenders, lawyers, psychologists, or medical professionals. Often these are not indifferent people who need help to learn principles of the work in Public Monitoring Commissions.
lawyer, chairwoman of the third convocation of the Public Monitoring Commission of Mari El Republic, head of the Public Council of the Federal penitentiary service in Mari El Republic from 2004 to 2014.
member of the third convocation of the Public Monitoring Commission of Mari El Republic, chairwoman of the fourth convocation of the Public Monitoring Commission of Mari El Republic.
psychologist with 40 years of experience, member of the fifth convocation of the Public Monitoring Commission of Mari El Republic.
Human rights defenders of the organization “Man and Law” have been working in the Public Monitoring Commission of Mari El Republic since the first convocation in 2008, when the Federal law (FZ-76) on public control was adopted.
За 12 лет деятельности ОНК в Марий Эл общественные наблюдатели выстроили четкий алгоритм работы, который помогает добиваться изменений в уголовно-исполнительной системе. И по нему старается работать каждый новый созыв.
Members of the Public Monitoring Commission visit the institutions of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs on a regular basis and monitor the observance of human rights in dynamics.
Unscheduled visits due to complaints
When an emergency complaint is received about a violation of rights, members of the PMC immediately go to the institutions of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Public observers examine the observance of any right on the territory of all institutions of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. For example, how the right to privacy is respected in all institutions.
Working meetings with the leadership of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs
This practice allows members of the PMC to discuss complex systemic and individual issues with the authorities and jointly seek solutions to problematic situations.
Reports on the results of work
The mandatory intermediate result of the PMC's work is to write conclusions based on the results of each visit to places of detention.
In Mari El Republic, the conditions of stay in temporary detention centers have changed significantly during the work of the PMC, because the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Mari El Republic fulfills most of the recommendations regarding such centers. The Ministry of Internal Affairs immediately notifies members of the PMC of any deaths in the center for foreign citizens and temporary detention centers. In Federal penitentiary institutions, the last case of torture in Mari El Republic was recorded in 2006. The absence of facts of torture and the minimum number of deaths in places of detention are one of the main criteria for the effectiveness of the PMC. If the Public Monitoring Commission was able to achieve this in the territory of Mari El Republic, we believe that a similar result can be achieved in any other region, but only if the PMC team in the region consists of caring people who are really willing to stand up for the rights of prisoners and interact with other human rights actors.
We teach to work in Public Monitoring Commissions
At the request in the regions, we conduct educational seminars where we explain their powers, rights and responsibilities to new members of the PMC. We describe the algorithm of work in the PMC and explain how to write conclusions on the results of visits to places of detention.
If you are only a candidate for membership in the PMC, our staff will help you prepare a package of documents taking into account the peculiarities of your region for sending to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.
If you want to become a member of the PMC and engage in public control of places of detention, we will help you prepare a package of documents taking into account the peculiarities of your region for sending to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.
We provide legal advice
We advise members of the PMC on issues related to the protection of the rights of convicts, since Public Monitoring Commissions do not always include human rights defenders and lawyers.
We provide legal support to members of the PMC if the authorities persecute public observers because of effective work on protection of the rights of prisoners. For example, the administration of the Federal penitentiary service is trying to open an administrative case against a member of the PMC in order to prevent him/her from entering places of detention.
We provide psychological support
Public observers are the link between authorities and prisoners. Working in places of detention requires high motivation and emotional impact, so it is important to solve psychological problems in time and join forces with colleagues who share the values of human rights with you.
Our psychologist can advise public observers online or over the phone, and if possible in person, if they have conflict situations when interacting with the administrations of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, or if there are conflicts within the PMC team.
Also, a conversation with a psychologist may be useful if you are a new member of the PMC, and you will have to visit places of detention for the first time. A psychologist will help you overcome the emotional barrier when you first communicate with prisoners.
Upon request from the regions, our psychologist conducts supervision if there is an acute conflict situation in the Public Monitoring Commission of the region.
We travel to the regions on request. This can be a seminar, supervision, or training to resolve a conflict within the PMC.
Our events are aimed not only at members of the PMC or candidates for the PMC, but also members of Public Councils under the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as employees of human rights organizations that protect the rights of prisoners.
Please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org@manandlaw.info
with a title “Assistance to the PMC”
Please contact us by phone:
+7 (903) 326-79-12
We develop guidelines that will be useful to you in your work on human rights in places of detention.
In this manual, we describe how members of Public Monitoring Commissions should conduct seminars on human rights for representatives of government agencies. The manual will help to build effective interaction between public observers and employees of the Federal penitentiary service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“Manual for members of Public Monitoring Commissions for monitoring compliance with standards of medical care in places of detention”
The manual is devoted to the work of Public Monitoring Commissions to monitor compliance with standards of medical care in places of detention. It contains many legal cases on the protection of prisoners' health.
Tools for conducting research on the right to privacy in places of detention
Together with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, we have studied standards for the right to privacy in places of detention and developed detailed tools. They include an analysis of legislation, an observation map, questionnaires and forms for making requests to agencies, and an algorithm for the final regional report to be discussed with regional agencies.
Private life is the most sensitive right, because it concerns our personal life, our relatives and close people. Compliance with this right is often neglected in places of detention, because employees of regime institutions do not consider it important. However, the connection with the family and personal development through reading books and magazines help convicts maintain contact with the outside world and not to be closed in the space of the colony. When convicts lose their socialization skills, they have an increased risk of being sent to places of detention again.
We will be happy if you get acquainted with these tools and decide to conduct monitoring in your region. If you have any questions, please contact us, we are ready to help.