22 February 2013
Logo of the Golos Assocation for Voters Rights
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg has registered a complaint by the Golos Association for the Defence of Voters' Rights regarding the violation of three articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and assigned it a unique number 41055/12 (Assotsiatsiya Ngo Golos and Others v. Russia).
Agora Human Rights Assocation announced this news, quoting lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliyev, who received the notification from the ECtHR. Akhmetgaliyev is representing the interests of the Golos Association.
The complaint by Golos relates to the decision by a Russian Court to find the NGO guilty of "violating the procedures for participating in providing election information" and fine them 30,000 roubles.
The NGO believes that the rulings by the magistrate of Judicial District 383 in the Meshchansky District and the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow violate their right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and right to an effective remedy (Articles 6, 10 and 13 of the European Convention).
The main accusation levelled against the NGO by the prosecution was the fact that Golos had published their Map of Election Violations 2011 on the Internet, which provided "statistics for the election campaign and analysis of them, the results of the analysis detailing reports of abuses committed during the election campaign."
On 1 December 2011, the Meshchansky interdistrict prosecutor filed an administrative case in connection with the posting of alleged "campaign materials" on the Golos website on 29-30 November. On the same day at 1.30 pm he sent a copy of the decision to an employee of the organisation, followed at 7.00 pm by a court summons. However, the organisation's legal representative was abroad on business at the time, something both the public prosecutor and the court were informed of. The lawyer defending the interests of the Golos Association was summoned to appear at 9.00 am on 2 December and the trial started just two hours later.
The defence lawyer asked for the case to be postponed so that he could familiarise himself with the materials: the charge and the presented evidence, and to prepare the necessary motions and the position of the defence. The court rejected the request and gave the lawyer just half an hour to study the 139-page case.
The lawyer asked for the charges to be clarified, since the organisation's website has several sections with different information and he needed to know exactly which section contained, according to the charges, the campaign materials. The court rejected this request too. The magistrate also failed to take into account the fact that Golos does not publish campaign materials but information about the election process.
On 2 December 2011, the magistrate of Judicial District 383 in the Meshchansky District of Moscow found the Golos Association guilty and fined them 30,000 roubles. On 29 December 2011, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow upheld the magistrate's decision. The organisation paid the fine to the state in full.
The Golos Association has been operating since 2000. Golos conducts long-term and short-term monitoring of all stages of elections. Their main efforts are focussed on conducting free and fair elections through the use of public monitoring of the election process. Golos also keeps the electorate informed about the progress of election campaigns. The work of Golos is founded on the principle of political neutrality.