MOSCOW, March 5 (RAPSI) – The State Duma has adopted in the third and final reading a bill regulating the activities of human rights commissioners in the country’s regions, which aims to extend their powers and set uniform rules and approaches governing the formation of this institution.

The document establishes the respective legal framework, determines the procedures of complaint handling and cooperation with state bodies and organizations.

A regional ombudsman is to be elected by the regional legislatures, the nominations are to be approved by Russia’s Rights Commissioner. Eligible nominees are to meet such requirements as age at or above 30 (regional legislative authorities are empowered to set the minimal age limit higher, but not more than by 5 years), graduate from a higher education establishment, have previous experience in in the sphere of human rights protection, as well as have unassailable reputation.

The ombudsman is to hold the position no more than two consecutive 5-year terms; however, regional legislators may at their discretion set less prolonged terms in office.

As Russia’s Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova noted earlier, the document envisages that regional ombudsmen are empowered to act not only when receiving complaints, but also when informed about massive human rights violations by journalists or on the basis of data from other sources. The human rights commissioners are granted the right to get acquainted with all civil and criminal cases, where court decisions become final, and apprise the power of arguments presented by complainers in order to turn to regulators or oversight agencies asking them to examine such cases.

Regional ombudsmen are also empowered to file administrative claims in case they found violations of law and to turn to prosecutor’s offices asking to investigate alleged violations, or to courts challenging decisions in criminal or civil cases.

Complaints are to be submitted to rights commissioners within a year since the date of alleged violation, or the date the complainer becomes aware of such a violation. Ombudsmen are to comply with confidentiality requirements and not disclose any personal information of complainers without their written consent.

The bill is authored by a group of senators, including the Chair of the Federation Council’s Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Andrey Klishas.