The System of International Legal Cooperation in Criminal Matters in Russia: Council of Europe Conventions in the Field of Penal Law and Their Implementation in Russia

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Author: Merja Norros
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The two most important Council of Europe conventions in the penal field—the Convention on Extradition and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters—entered into force with respect to the Russian Federation in March 2000. The present article examines whether these conventions are fully implemented in Russia. Four research problems are identifi ed: (1) What kind of obligations have the European Conventions established for the contracting parties? (2) How is the fulfi llment of these obligations monitored by the Council of Europe and the member states? (3) How are the criteria for adequate international legal cooperation fulfi lled by Russia? and 4) Is cooperation with Russia different from cooperation with other countries and how could this cooperation be improved? The present article includes an empirical part, which provides statistics on requests for judicial assistance. The method is comparative. Altogether forty-one criteria have been formulated in order to evaluate systems for judicial cooperation. These criteria are organized into three groups, dealing respectively with: (i) legislative; (ii) institutional; and (iii) human resources aspects. The article stresses the signifi cance of the Committee of Experts on the Operation of European Conventions in the Penal field (PC-OC) in ensuring unanimous interpretation of the conventions. For the first time, the new Russian Criminal Procedure Code (2001) includes provisions on international cooperation, which are therefore carefully analyzed. The writer concludes that most of the main provisions of the European conventions have been implemented in Russian legislation. There are, however, some legislative gaps, i.e., concerning provisions on the searching, freezing, and confi scation of proceeds derived from criminal activity on the basis of a foreign request. In addition, some problems remain in administrative structures, such as five central authorities instead of one. Finally, the information and training concerning conventions is not (yet) suffi cient thereby resulting in certain practical difficulties.

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