In order to address the problem of racist and other bias motivated violence, Human Rights First urges the respective Russian authorities to implement the following recommendations:
- President Medvedev should appoint a special commission or personal representative with the mandate to investigate and propose a comprehensive national plan for combating bias-motivated violence and other forms of intolerance.
- President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin, and other senior government officials should speak out to publicly condemn crimes of racist violence and other violent bias crimes whenever they occur, and take action to ensure that such crimes are thoroughly investigated, perpetrators prosecuted and bias motivations are taken into account in the investigation and prosecution.
- Senior government officials should respond to public statements by political leaders and by public officials at any level of government that incite racist violence and other bias crime by publicly condemning such statements.
- Law enforcement and criminal justice agencies should publicly commit to investigate allegations of bias motives in specific violent hate crimes, and to provide regular public updates into the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.
- Criminal justice officials should undertake a more systematic application of available criminal law provisions that allow for enhanced penalties when a crime has been determined to have been motivated by bias. These include a general penalty enhancements provision (article 63) that can be applied in any violent crime, as well as specific penalty enhancement provisions in cases of murder (article 105), various degrees of assault (articles 111, 112, 115, 116) as well as in other violent crimes against persons and property (articles 117, 119, 150, 213, 214, 244).
- The relevant authorities should immediately undertake a review of the tools available under current laws, regulations, and rules to prosecute bias motivated violence, consistent with international human rights standards, including witness and juror protection programs, the admissibility at trial of prior acts and convictions, as well as procedures for recognizing the testimony of suspects as cooperating witnesses. The results of this review, along with recommendations for improvements, should be made public.
- Law enforcement officials should work together with victims, their communities and civil society groups to increase the confidence of hate crime victims to report crimes to the police. The authorities should ensure thorough investigation and prosecution of any reports of police harassment of hate crime victims.
- The Interior Ministry should seek to enhance the current system of data collection by disaggregating crimes “of an extremist nature” so as to report separately on violent crimes motivated by bias. Statistics should also provide data disaggregated to distinguish the various types of crime and forms of bias recorded.
- The Russian authorities should provide training for police and prosecutors in identifying and recording bias motivations, and in bringing evidence of bias motivations before the courts. They should commit to take advantage of training opportunities available by international organizations, e.g., the OSCE’s Law Enforcement Officer Program on Combating Hate Crimes, as well as through international and local nongovernmental organizations working in Russia.
- The Russian authorities should establish an official and independent anti-discrimination body in line with Council of Europe recommendations. This body should provide oversight over the monitoring and reporting of hate crimes. Such a body must be mandated to work closely with the Interior Ministry, the General Prosecutor’s Office and other bodies concerned with the registration, investigation, and prosecution of hate crimes.
- The Human Rights Ombudsman should request from the relevant authorities and publish on a regular basis official information on crimes for which there is a suspected bias motivation. The Ombudsman should compare this official information with information available from other sources, including civil society groups, and inquire with the authorities as to the nature of any discrepancies.