The Human Rights Council calls for complex NGO reporting forms to be withdrawn
Human rights activists believe that new NGO reporting forms should be drawn up in consultation with the Federation’s Public Chamber and the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (PCHR).
The requirements outlined in new NGO reporting forms, which were approved by the Ministry of Justice in August, are inappropriate, according to an appeal sent to the Ministry by the PCHR. The Council is of the view that the inclusion of new reporting clauses on the use of money received from legal Russian entities that are in receipt of foreign funding is an unreasonable extension of existing obligations.
The Justice Ministry’s Order on “Introducing NGO reporting forms” has been published on the official legal information website. It states that NGOs are obliged to report on money and property received from foreign countries, their State agencies and individuals authorised by them, as well as from legal Russian entities also in receipt of foreign funding.
The PCHR believes that the new report forms actually extend the requirements that relate exclusively to ‘foreign agents’. “The Russian Ministry of Justice does not have the authority to apply such a broad interpretation of existing legislation”, says the Council. It believes that the requirements to include personal data and information on the income of NGO employees and counterparties run counter to current legislation as the Justice Ministry does not have the power to collect and process such information.
Human rights activists are therefore calling on the Justice Minister, Alexander Konovalov, to rescind the Order and issue new forms that more accurately reflect the legislation’s requirements. The PCHR believes that a working group comprising Council and Justice Ministry representatives would be the best platform for discussing improvements to the law on NGOs which was created in 2014.