Pavel Chikov on questionnaires recently issued to the public by Moscow region police

posted 7 Feb 2011, 06:08 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Feb 2011, 06:18 ]
Grounds to interfere in private life and to limit human freedoms for the purposes of maintaining national security of course do exist. [...] The main question here is how well-grounded and necessary in a democratic society is such interference? In the case of the questionnaires in Moscow Region it is, certainly, without basis. There is obviously no necessity for it.

"Grounds to interfere in private life and to limit human freedoms for the purposes of maintaining national security of course do exist. They are recognized by the Constitution and by the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

However, unquestionably, the gathering of information about the private life of individuals is a violation by the state of defined human freedoms, and therefore here a boundary must be very clearly drawn. This is the logic in terms of which traditionally such questions are treated by the European Court of Human Rights.

The main question here is how well-grounded and necessary in a democratic society is such interference? In the case of the questionnaires in Moscow Region it is, certainly, without basis. There is obviously no necessity for it.

Interference of this kind is possible only in relation to specific individuals who are suspected of committing a crime. [...] It is of course important to attend to the question of whether the gathering of this particular information has any legally significant linkage with questions of national security. I have heard that in this connection certain predilections for food, drinks and sex have been mentioned. Without doubt, there is no connection at all here, a clear lack of correspondence.

So far as I know, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has already recognized this practice as unlawful and abolished it. I think that the issue for the time being can be considered closed. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that beat officers all the same are given certain instructions on the gathering of information about people living in their precincts. For the purpose of combating crime, for example. And here it really is important that a framework and limitations are observed.

In general, this practice which, I hope, has been abolished, is of course clearly unlawful. Will there be any consequences for those who proposed it? I would hope so." – from Pavel Chikov, Without good reason, but then why?, Grani.ru, 4 February 2011.

Pavel Chikov, PhD, MPA, LLM, lives in Kazan and is chairperson of AGORA, an association of human rights organizations.
Comments