Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
The Convention of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms was opened for signature on 26 May 1995 in Minsk. The convention was signed by seven of the twelve states that are members of the CIS on the same day. These seven states included Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Russia, Tajikistan and Moldova. Since then, the convention has been ratified by the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Tajikistan. It came into force on the 11th August 1998. This went down on the same day that the third instrument of the convention’s ratification was deposited by one of the member states, Belarus.
There are 38 articles in the Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. One of the articles that are of great interest in the Convention, Article 11 states that:
- ‘’Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas by any legal means without interference by a public authority and regardless of frontiers.’’
- ‘’The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions and restrictions as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, public safety or public order or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’’
The CIS Convention on Human Rights aims at the formation of a control mechanism; a Human Rights Commission of the states that are members of the CIS that can aid in the monitoring of the execution of the treaties signed in the convention through the issuance of recommendations. The commission is made up of appointed members that represent the state parties.
Since this convention came into force, there have been concerns from the Council of Europe regarding the legal implications that it may have for states that are ratifying it and the European Convention on Human Rights. The main area of concern has been on how the two can coexist without stepping onto each other’s mandates. This is particularly with regards to situations where the Commonwealth of Independent States offers less protection compared to the European Convention on Human Rights, both based on the body enforcing it and also the scope of its contents.
The Commonwealth of Independent States Commission cannot offer a guarantee of impartiality and independence to the tune of what is offered by the European Court of Human Rights. Besides, it recommendations do not enjoy the same enforcements like the judgments issued by the given court. As a result of all these issues, the Council of Europe advised its members and even those states that have made applications to become members, and also parties to the CIS not to sign or undertake any ratification of the CIS Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
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