Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups in Russia

CWI 2017-18 Programme

Russia deports Tajik mother after her baby’s death in police custody in November 2015

CWI’s 2017-18 training programme ‘Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups in Russia’ began in September 2017. 

The initiative is in the next stage of the long-term education programme Magna Carta International, launched by CWI in February 2016. The aim of the new programme is to improve access to justice for two vulnerable groups in Russia – migrants and persons with disabilities – by strengthening knowledge and skills of Russian lawyers in these areas of practice.  Equipped with the knowledge of international human rights standards, Russian lawyers will be able to defend the rights of migrants and disabled persons more efficiently and ensure that these persons get unhindered access to justice and a fair trial in accordance with the rule of law.

Quotes from Programme Participants

The trip was very inspiring. We felt that the value of human life is seen as a priority in England. And we are now eager to defend members of vulnerable groups.”

“Much of what the lecturers talked about can also be applied in Russia as regards the protection of the rights of disabled people. Until recently, the number of positive decisions in this category of cases in Russia was low but at present, more and more Russian lawyers begin to feel concerned and attempt to change legislation and legal practice.”

“Without any doubt, it was very important for me to learn from the experience of UK colleagues. The overall outcome of the training for me is that it has motivated me to keep working in this area and bear in mind that, judging by the experience of British lawyers, the opportunities and rights of disabled people can in fact be equal to those enjoyed by other members of the public.”

Catherine Casserley, St Petersburg


Defending the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and and Migrants,
St Petersburg 29-30 September 2017

This first seminar took place in the premises of the Legal Training Centre.  Lawyers from St. Petersburg and other regions who came to the seminar were motivated by the opportunity to learn about the British experience firsthand and to meet with the leading Russian human rights lawyers experienced in defending the rights of migrants and of patients with mental disorders.

Key experts:

  • Dmitri Bartenev, Attorney at Law, ONEGIN Group Law Office, St. Petersburg
  • Catherine Casserley, barrister, Cloisters Chambers, London
  • Olga Tseytlina, Atorney at Law, Iusland Law Offices, St Petersburg
  • Deirdre Sheahan, Associate Solicitor, Paragon Law, Nottingham

Elena Cook, St Petersburg


Interpreters and the Legal Process, 31 October 2017

This second seminar in St Petersburg gathered interpreters working at court and police stations. Participants discussed and compared the systems in Russia, UK, Australia and Poland, the quality of interpretation in legal context and the prospect of establishing a professional code of practice for court interpreters in Russia.

Key experts:

  • Oxana Yakimenko, simultaneous interpreter, St. Petersburg
  • Elena Cook, simultaneous interpreter, London
  • Alexander Larin, Director of Alba Translations, Nizhniy Novgorod

Migration Law Session with Freedom from Torture, London


December 2017 and January 2018

Two groups of Russian lawyers travelled to the UK in December 2017 and January 2018 to be acquainted with two areas of legal practice in England and Wales: disability law and asylum law, respectively. The training programmes, organised by Nottingham University Human Rights Law Centre, combined visits to law firms and chambers, observing proceedings at various criminal and specialist courts, and sessions with NGO lawyers providing assistance to migrants and persons with disabilities.

Disability Law Session at the University of Nottingham


16 February 2018

On 16 February 2018 the delegates of two study trips to the UK shared their impressions with their colleagues from St Petersburg and other regions. They spoke about their visits to criminal and specialist courts in Nottingham and London, sessions with English solicitors and barristers and the work of UK charities providing assistance to vulnerable groups. 


Citizens’ Watch International

Citizens’ Watch International is a UK registered charity dedicated to promoting access to justice where human rights are at risk, particularly in Russia and the former Soviet Bloc countries.