MOSCOW, June 23 (RAPSI) – Russia’s Federal Chamber of Lawyers backed an initiative envisaging that court-appointed legal professionals are to be granted the right to represent interests of minors, the press-service of the body informs on Tuesday.

The Chamber shares the view that a number of problems exists at the moment in the sphere of protection of rights and interests of children, among them abuses of parental authority and ethical issues encountered by lawyers in the situations where minors are not their immediate principals. The Chamber agrees that granting underage individuals the personal right to be provided legal aid by pro bono court-assigned lawyers may become an efficient legal instrument as to the settlement of the aforesaid problems, according to the statement.

At the end of the last year, Russia’s Supreme Court developed a bill aimed to amend the Code of Administrative Procedure to the effect that minors are to have the right of personal participation in court hearings and that of being provided professional legal aid.

Professional legal aid is to be provided to minors by mandatory participation of lawyers in the hearings on condition courts have no information if the underage persons have the representatives as required by the Code, the explanatory note to the bill reads.

In line with the initiative, Moscow Bar Association member Victoria Dergunova has developed proposals aimed to change a number of codes and laws to the effect that lawyers are to be empowered to provide professional legal aid to children.

According to Dergunova, she has been being involved in protection of children for many years; nevertheless, she could not protect them directly as by law her principals were the parents of minors. Accordingly, the lawyer says, she could do nothing even when seeing that the parents acted not in the interests of their children as she could not do anything against the will or interests of her formal principals.

Dergunova believes that after the law is amended, the Chamber is to organize training courses for lawyers, where they could learn special skills needed to participate in disputes involving protection of children’s rights and make the lists of such legal professionals for courts.

The initiative of the lawyer has been already backed by the Office of Russia’s Ombudsman.