Russia's top court rules snap inspections of NGOs breach constitution
ST. PETERSBURG, February 17 (RAPSI, Kirill Chulkov) - Russia's Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that unscheduled inspections of non-government organizations breach the constitution, according to court records.
Several human rights organizations filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court. They believe that the lack of clear regulation allows prosecutors to conduct unlimited inspections, involve other authorities and request any documents from NGOs to be provided by an arbitrary deadline.
The court decided that the controversial provisions of the law on prosecutor’s activity do not establish a clear timeframe and allow inspectors to set their own, which often makes it impossible for NGOs to fulfill requests. Since there are no legal criteria, the validity of such requests cannot be verified. If NGOs fail to meet the requests, they face administrative liability. In this respect, the law on prosecutor’s activity is in breach of the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court listed mandatory conditions for prosecutor’s inspections of NGOs. The inspections must have sufficient motives while the organization in question must be notified of the checks and their results.
A prosecutor’s office may not request any documents from NGOs that are already held by the government officials, openly accessible or documents that are not compulsory.
An inspection may not be carried out again on the same grounds unless to resolve violations.
Other officials may be involved in the inspection only for expertise and analytics purposes. The results of the inspection may be disputed in court.