The Association of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East of Russian Federation (RAIPON), representing interests of regional and ethnic public organisations of 40 indigenous peoples, is asking you to consider our suggestions concerning the Federal Bill N 58338-4 “On Amendments to Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation and Recognising the Annulations of Several Legislative Acts of RF in Connection with Adopting of the Federal Laws ‘On amendments to the federal law ‘On General Principles of Organisation of Legislative (Representative) and Executive Bodies in the Administrative Regions of the Russian Federation’ and ‘On General Principles of Local Self-government Organisation in the Russian Federation’’”, in which the regulations in the federal laws “On the Guaranties of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Russian Federation”, “On General Principles of Establishing Communities of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East” are being subjected to review, especially in the article 119 (Insert into Federal Law of April 30, 1999 No. 82-FЗ “On the guaranties of indigenous peoples’ rights in Russian Federation”) and in the article 130 (Insert into Federal Law of July 20, 2000 No. 104 FЗ “On General Principles of Establishing Communities of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East”) of the Bill No.583338-4.
RAIPON is unconditionally opposed to the changes into these federal laws owing to the following reasons.
The proposed amendments to this bill destroy the legal frame of principle rights of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation and contradict the RF Constitution (particularly articles 55, 69, 72 and 76), as well as international regulations and norms, and violate human rights.
At the same time regulations, removed from the federal laws “On the Guaranties of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Russian Federation”, “On General Principles of Establishing Communities of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East” in articles 119 and 130 of the bill No.58338-4, do not contradict to federal laws “On Amendments to the Federal Law ‘On General Principles of Organisation of Legislative (Representative) and Executive Bodies in the Administrative Regions of the Russian Federation” and “On General Principles of Local Self-government Organisation in the Russian Federation”, and this fact is in opposition to the idea and the aim of this bill.
Unfortunately, we have to underline that the proposed changes in these articles are intended to reduce the rights of indigenous peoples, to provide maximum leverage to government officials to avoid their obligations regarding indigenous peoples, to reduce the authority of administrative regions of the Russian Federation during the solving of issues related to the defense of traditional living space and traditional way of live of indigenous peoples, that contradict to articles 55 and 72 of the RF Constitution.
The adoption of this bill occurs in a time, when most of the indigenous peoples live below of the poverty limit, are distinguished by an exceptionally low life span and high illness rates. The reasons of such negative processes are both insufficient attention of federal authorities to indigenous peoples, absence of federal structure engaged in indigenous peoples’ problems, and aggressive seizure of traditional natural resources, which are the base of indigenous peoples’ existence, and transfer of these resources to industrial, extractive companies. In light of this the removal of the article 4, item 10 of the article 5, items 1 and 5 of the article 7, and the article 13, changing the content of the items 8 and 9 of the article 8, and the article 11 of the federal law “On the Guaranties of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Russian Federation” would appear blasphemous.
It should be noted that the norms that are being removed – the right on support from state authorities in the field of defending traditional living space and way of live, the right on organisation of territorial public self-government, the right on representation in legal (representative) bodies of the RF administrative regions and in representative bodies of local self-government, the right on taking part in decision-making process on local level, in issues related to indigenous communities’ interests, etc. – have been recognised at an international level owing to RF Government annual reports to the UN and during five years have become a basis for international agreements and long-term projects, most of which have been signed by the Government and are already implemented. Removal of these rights, which were obtained as a result of the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples, will be looked upon as a very strange action, especially in the light of Russia’s upcoming Chairmanship in the Arctic Council, whose priority is the concern for indigenous peoples of the North.
It should be underlined that during the five years that have past since the adoption of the first of the mentioned laws, not a single piece of legislation was introduced to adjust the adopted laws’ norms to other federal laws for timely and effective realisation.
At the same time legislative acts led to realisation of the mentioned laws’ norms and improvement of indigenous peoples’ life in the field of defending traditional living space and way of live provided by article 72, part 1, item “м” of the RF Constitution, were adopted at regional levels in many administrative regions of the RF.
Consistent removal, in this bill, of the authority of administrative regions of the Russian Federation in the field of defending traditional living space and way of live and development of indigenous self-government will destroy regional legislation in this field, cancel positive regional experience, and above all will worsen critical economic, social and ecological status of indigenous peoples.
RAIPON thinks that removal of the authority of administrative regions of the Russian Federation in the field of defending defending traditional living space and way of live is untimely and illegal, because this not only contradicts to the RF Constitution, but also is a criminal act against indigenous peoples – in the absence of a special federal structure engaged in indigenous peoples’ problems, indigenous peoples are turned out to be exposed, deprived of legal support, which they had in the regions.
Under hasty reconsideration of the articles of the above mentioned laws is may be missed that texts of federal laws currently in force about indigenous peoples’ current status are the result of ten years’ activity of the working groups and conciliatory commissions. These texts were based on generally recognised principles and norms of international law and international agreements of the RF according to the article 15, item 4 of the RF Constitution.
Contradictory and insufficiently considered removal of the mentioned norms from Russian legislation can sell short of the Russian Federation on the international scene in the field of indigenous peoples’ rights observance according to international principles and norms.
It is impossible to adopt such bill in the present form, in the part related to indigenous peoples’ rights. We would like to ask during the future work on the bill’s text to take into account our suggestions and include RAIPON’s representatives in the working group staff.