Federal Law No 3-FZ “On Police”



Federal Law No 3-FZ “On Police” signed by the President of the Russian Federation on February 7, 20II[1] formalizes the creation of a new institution within the law enforcement system of Russia. Henceforth, the most numerous and multibranch law enforcement structure will, like in most countries worldwide, be called “the police”.

However, the transformation of the militia into the police is not going to be a mere change of a name. It will be followed by the fundamental change of the guidelines, basic principles, means and methods of policing. Federal Law No 3-FZ “On Police” is based on a number of vital concepts.

The Law emphasizes the primary law enforcement function of the police in the society. Like all over the world, the principal purpose of the police will be to maintain the public safety and order. Its fundamental functions will, inter alia, include: protection of a person, the society and the state from any unlawful encroachments, prevention or preclusion of crime or administrative offence, detection and disclosure of crime, criminal enquiry, search for missing persons, public order, traffic safety, and any other function referred to in Article 2 of this Law.

In order to facilitate the law enforcement nature of the new-born structure, the police will be deprived of a number of duties performed by its predecessor, the militia, such as: alcohol detoxification medical centres, technical inspection of motor vehicles, administrative expulsion of foreign citizens, maintenance of disqualified persons register, monitoring of cashier equipment operation, etc.

As compared to the militia, the duties of the police are more clear-cut and definite, especially those duties which directly affect personal rights and freedoms. The latter will help to limit subjectivity in policing.

The underlying principle of this Law will be humanization of policing. Observance of the human and civil rights and freedoms will be a social obligation of the police. Its first priority will be a human being, and the principal purpose of the police is to protect human rights and freedoms. Prevention and deterrence of crime or unlawful conduct will be the cornerstone of policing. This principle is enshrined in Articles 2 and 12 of the Law.

In order to avoid any violation of personal rights and freedoms the Law particularizes the grounds and the procedure of the state enforcement, first of all, such enforcement measures as detention (Article 14), entry into a residence, premises, or a land plot (Article 15), cordoning off (blocking) part of a territory, a residence, building or facility (Article 16).

The Law provides that in case a police officer violates the rights and freedoms of a person or an entity, the police will do their best to restore the violated rights or freedoms and indemnify the victim for any damage within their powers. The police will apologize to the wrongfully injured party through their officials (Article 9, Paragraph 3).

The Law establishes a new partnership model in the police - society relations. This new relationship will be achieved through the implementation of the guidelines of police activity detailed in Chapter 2 of the Law. The cornerstone are such fundamental principles of policing as the observance and respect for human and civil rights and freedoms (Article 5), legality (Article 6), impartiality (Article 7), transparency and accountability (Article 8), public trust (Article 9), interaction and cooperation (Article 10) and implementation of scientific achievements (Article 11). These new basic principles of policing are both a conceptual and legal innovation.

An important novelty will be the police’s accountability to the public. Chief executive officers and other police officials will regularly account for the results of their work to the legislative authorities of the constituent territories of the Russian Federation, representative municipal bodies and the public (Article 8, Paragraph 3).

The public opinion as the principal criterion of the police efficiency evaluation is another novelty of this Law. In practice, it will mean that the efficiency of the police is judged by its actual ability to protect the rights and freedoms, the right of a person to labour, education or recreation.

Affiliated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) of Russia and its territorial bodies there will be public councils formed by the representatives of public associations, human right, religious or other organizations, as well as the science and arts community (Article 9, Paragraphs 7 and 8).

One of the goals and the fundamental concept of the Law is formalization of the new image of a law enforcement officer needed by the society. There is a detailed description of the requirements to be met by a police officer. Не/she shall not resort to torture, violence, or any other cruel or degrading treatment (Article 5, Paragraph 3); directly or indirectly aid, abet or incite a wrongdoing (Article 6, Paragraph 3).

Pursuant to Article 5, Paragraphs 4 and 5,of the Law, a police officer addressing a person shall state his/her post, rank, name, and at the person's request produce his/her police ID, then explain the reason for the approach. In case of restriction of a person's rights or freedoms, he/she will explain the reason for the restriction and the respective rights and duties of the person.

The Law provides that a police officer on duty at a public place shall wear a personal identifying badge on his/her uniform (Article 25, Paragraph 6).

Pursuant to Article 14, Paragraph 3, of the Law, whenever detaining a person, the police officer shall explain to the detainee his/her right to a legal assistance, an interpreter, a phone call to notify his/her family or close friends and the right to keep silent.

The police shall have regular examinations of their knowledge of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal law and standard regulations governing policing (Article 27, Paragraph 1(1)).

Surely, the new Law will not, like a magic wand, turn an officer into an ideal policeman/policewoman. Nevertheless, we believe that the principal trend of the law is correct.

Another conceptual assumption underlying the Law is the structural unity of the police and the other law enforcement agencies. The police will be a part of the Federal executive internal affairs’ authority.

While preparing and discussing the draft law, some participants suggested the police should be divided into the federal and the local ones. However, at present the police are considered to be more efficient when operating as part of a centralized internal affairs system.

According to the President of the Russian Federation, D. A. Medvedev, the aforementioned structure might be interim and appropriate at an initial stage of the new institution’s development. Later on, it might be advisable to return to the issue of a two-fold police: the one subordinate to a constituent territory of the Russian Federation, and the municipal police.

Since January 1, 2012, the police will be federally funded. The cost of policing will be a payment obligation of the Russian Federation. In this case, the police as part of a centralized system will be able to avoid dual subordination and ensure uniform social safeguards for its officers irrespective of any regional inequalities.

Federal Law No 3-FZ «On Police» accumulates domestic and positive foreign expertise in the field of the police structure formation. Another step is taken to approximate to the international legal standards of policing. The Law takes into account the rules and recommendations of a number of international documents, including: Declaration on the Police; Global Standards to combat corruption in police forces/services; European Code of Police Ethics; Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials; International Code of Conduct for Public Officials; Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials; Convention for the Protection of Persons with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data; Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, etc.

Federal Law No 3-FZ «On Police» is one of the most «weighty» statutes. It consists of 56 articles divided into 11 chapters. Its distinctive feature is a finer legal structure, rigorous terminology and definiteness of its provisions. Its composition and numbering of its articles, paragraphs and items makes it easy to use. The Law contains a comprehensive list of duties and a detailed list of rights, including those «retrieved» from subordinate documents. There are fewer references to subordinate regulations. The wording of its provisions is more exact and definite. Not only the police, but also the public will benefit from all this, abuse towards the citizens that result from vagueness and complexity of regulatory provisions making them difficult to apply will be avoided.

Bulavin S.P., Honoured Lawyer of the Russian Federation, Ph.D. in Laws, Associate Professor

Chernikov V.V., Honoured Lawyer of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Laws, Professor

 8 Februаry 2012


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