Russia agrees to human rights reform

Jan. 15, 2010 at 8:10 AM
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MOSCOW, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The Russian Parliament took an apparent step toward European harmony on a major issue Friday by agreeing to reforms in the European Court of Human Rights.

Lawmakers in the lower house voted 392-56 to ratify the reform plan, known as Protocol 14, a proposal accepted by all 47 participating states except Russia, The New York Times said.

The international human rights court, based in Strasbourg, France, has been mired in a backlog of complaints, nearly one-third of them filed against Russia, in recent years.

Protocol 14 aims to speed up the court's work, partly through reducing the number of judges necessary to make major decisions.

Moscow's opposition appeared rooted in its overall suspicion of the court, which has found Russian officials guilty of corruption, torture and other acts of misconduct, observers said.

A major turning point appeared to be based on European ministers finally guaranteeing that Russian judges would be involved in reviewing complaints against Russia.

Dmitri F. Vyatkin, who serves on Parliament's legislative committee, said the decision showed that Russia and the other European states were seeking common ground.

"It's not such a big step," Vyatkin told the Times, "but it's a step toward one another, and that's the main thing."

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