New law on State secrets in Russia sent back for revision
The Human Rights Centre has issued a statement regarding the draft law “On amendments to the RF Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (State secrets, State treason and espionage) and President Medvedevs move on 27 January 2009 in sending it back to be worked on.
“Many human rights defenders spoke out against the amendments proposed by the Government in December 2008. The draft law was due to be considered at the session of the legislation committee of the State Duma on 13 January 2009 however at the last minute discussion of the law was removed from the agenda. . No official statements were made by the State Duma on this subject.”. Memorial goes on to explain that on 27 January Interfax reported that the President had instructed his Administration to work on the amendments concerning State secrets, State treason and espionage, and says that it would seem that the draft law is likely to be reintroduced but with new wordings.
While Memorial states that this is a pleasant surprise and would seem to indicate some degree of communication between the authorities and the public, there remain cogent grounds for scepticism.
They point out that at the end of December 2008 the President signed a law introducing amendments to the law on countering terrorism which envisages serious restriction in the competence of juries.
Human rights groups spoke out against the effective abolition of trial by jury on vitally important categories of cases. No appeals then had any effect on the Presidents action in signing the bill into law.
The statement is available in Russian at: http://www.memo.ru/2009/01/28/2801091.htm