The court’s opinion on the liquidation of the human rights organization “Man and Law": text broadcast

9 July 2020

On 2 July, 2020 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mari El began consideration of the meritsof the case on the liquidation of the interregional non-governmental human rights organization"Man and Law". The verdict will be announced on 6 July, 2020. Since the court did not allow any listeners or journalists to attend the court session and refused to conduct a video broadcast, we had to limit ourselves to the text.
2 July 2020
13:55 – the court session will begin in 5 minutes, where the claim of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Mari El on the liquidation of the human rights organization “Man and Law” will be considered. We hope that the broadcast will be allowed.
14:28 – the judge rejects the request to conduct the broadcast. The court session is completely closed. The reasons for refusal are restrictions due to the pandemic and documents only for the officials use in the case.
14:37 – the judge rejects the request of the defense of "Man and Law" to make copies from the case materials. We want to copy the answers from the Interior Ministry, FSB, Prosecutor's office and Roskomnadzor, which, at the request of the Ministry of Justice responded that they had not found violations of law in the organization "Man and Law". Reasons for refusal: the Ministry of Justice objects, and these documents are marked "for official use".
14:41 – representatives of the Ministry of Justice: "Man and the Law" is a threat."
14:44 – the witness, Lyudmila Zolotareva, a chairman of the Association of foster families "Maria" of the Republic of Mari El tells the court about the interaction with the human rights organization "Man and Law": "From the very beginning of the Association, human rights defenders helped foster families in legal education, legal protection, advised and represented the interests of children and foster families in the authorities and courts."
14:45 – we asked to allow 14 listeners to be present at the court session, including 4 journalists. They didn't let any of them in.
14:55 – the judge examines 17 volumes of the Ministry of Justice audit. The very 17 volumes that the Ministry of Justice staff really didn't want to show us. As a result, the judge allows to see them, but not to copy.
15:00 – the Ministry of Justice opposes the broadcast of the court session, because "Man and Law" has constantly commented on the actions of the Ministry of Justice. Thus, this comment is dedicated to the actions of the Ministry of Justice. 😊
16:00 – after a 15-minute break, a representative of the Ministry of Justice speaks. She says that the decision of Roskomnadzor, stating that no violations of the law on marking "foreign agents" were found, does not mean that there are no violations. The main thing is that they are discovered by the Ministry of Justice.
16:10 – the representative of the Ministry of Justice declares that the interregional organization can hold events only in those regions where it has representative offices.
16:28 – the employee of the Ministry of Justice is interested in why we do not hold all interregional events in Yoshkar-Ola. Our lawyer tells her that in terms of transport accessibility Yoshkar-Ola is inferior to many (if not all) other capitals of Russian regions and it is impossible to get to it without additional expenses.
16:32 – the representative of the Ministry of Justice says that they issued a warning not to conduct activities in other regions in 2010, 2014, 2019. But NGO Man and Law" continues to hold them. It’s time to liquidate the organization. Lawyer of the organization: "In 2015, in order to eliminate violations, the organization became interregional, with the legal right to carry out its activities in more than half of the regions of the Russian Federation."
16:39 – the lawyer of the organization: "The actions of the organization are always in good faith, and we always follow the requirements of the Ministry of Justice, if they are laws. Violations found in 2010 and 2014 cannot be imputed, because all this has already been eliminated. The Ministry of Justice confirmed this."
16:55 – Irina Protasova, a chairwoman of the organization "Man and Law": "We have a long- standing practice of interacting with the Ministry of Justice. We always comply with the requirements and warnings, even if they are difficult to understand. We have corrected all the minutes of the meetings, and I guarantee that from now all the minutes will be without violations."
17:06 – Aleksey Laptev, a lawyer provided by the "Public Verdict" Foundation to represent the interests of the organization "Man and Law", states that the Ministry of Justice tried to liquidate the public organization "OPORA" of the Republic of Mari El on similar grounds. The court refused to liquidate it. In addition, there is a decision of the European Court of Human Rights that a political party is not obliged to open branches in regions where it conducts non-permanent activities.
17:15 – and finally, in the legal justification, the Ministry of Justice indicated the real reason for the liquidation of a human rights organization with 20 years of experience: "The organization publicly comments on the actions of officials, comments on violations of the law detected in its activities, thereby contributing to the negative attitude of society to the state (including state bodies)" — an exact quote.
17:47 – according to Aleksey Laptev, a lawyer of the "Public Verdict" Foundation, based on the practice of the ECHR, the liquidation of an organization is the toughest measure that will not violate article 11 of the Convention only in exceptional cases. For example, if the organization is involved in terrorist activities or has resorted to repeated acts of violence. Those violations that are imputed to the organization "Man and Law" are absolutely incomparable with violations that can lead to the liquidation of the organization. Therefore, the liquidation of the organization "Man and Law" will violate the guarantees of article 11 of the Convention.
17: 48 – the court session is adjourned until next day (09.00, 3 July, 2020).
3 July 2020
9:34 – the witness Aminat Arsibekova, a founder of the public organization "Reflection of the world" (organization of disabled people and parents of disabled children in Mari El Republic): "Lawyers of the organization "Man and Law" consult representatives of our organization for free. They helped to create our organization and correctly fill out numerous constituent documents. If "Man and Law" is closed, we do not know where to apply for free legal aid."
9:41 – the witness Natalia Isakova, a chairwoman of the public organization for the protection of the rights of disabled children "Special family" says that members of the "Special family" receive free legal assistance in the organization "Man and Law". Human rights defenders help in the implementation of presidential grants, in negotiations with the authorities.
9:44 – the representative of the Ministry of Justice states that if an organization pays the costs of organizing a seminar in another region, it means that it operates in this region.
9:59 – the judge lists more than 50 certificates of honor and letters of thanks from the heads of government agencies and public figures with whom the organization worked together.
10:25 – the court moves to the debate of the parties. The representative of the Ministry of Justice supports the claim and repeats that the organization committed gross repeated violations: errors in protocols and conducting activities in other regions. Conducting seminars is considered an activity, since they affect the authorities (this conclusion, according to the Ministry of Justice, applies only to the activities of NGOs).
10:32 – Vladimir Protasov, a lawyer of the organization "Man and Law" states that a one – time event is not a systematic activity. We have corrected all the errors pointed out by the Ministry of Justice. Liquidation of an organization for violations which occurred 6 years ago is excessive. Existing violations must also be measured against the benefits of the organization's activities. Witnesses have confirmed that the organization's activities are useful. All claims made against the organization are initiated by the authorities, while citizens declare the need to preserve the organization.
10:40 – Irina Protasova, a chairwoman of the organization: "All the activities of the organization for 20 years of work were aimed at the good. We have never done anything to break the law."
10:48 – Aleksey Laptev, a lawyer of the "Public Verdict" Foundation, says that from the point of view of international law, the arguments of the Ministry of Justice cannot be the basis for the liquidation of an NGO. The ECHR, which decisions are an integral part of the Russian legal system, has determined that minor violations cannot be the subject of pressure on the organization. The requirement to register a representative office in each region, where the seminar is held, is excessive.
10:52 – Aleksey Laptev, a lawyer of the “Public Verdict” Foundation: “I ask the court to protect a socially useful organization “Man and Law” from a socially harmful claim of the Ministry of Justice.”
Then the court adjourned until Monday. The meeting will continue on 6 July, 2020 at 9.00
6 July 2020
9:12 – after a two-day break, the court session continues. The representative of the Ministry of Justice states that it did not conclude that the activities of "Man and Law" do not meet the statutory goals. The judge retires to the conference room. The decision will be announced at 9.30.
9:49 – the court decision is to refuse to satisfy the claim of the Ministry of Justice on the liquidation of the interregional non-governmental human rights organization "Man and Law". The decision will be ready on 16 July, 2020.

We thank everyone who supported and worried. We believed in common sense. More information about the process and decision will be provided later.
picture picture