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  2. Labor rehabilitation program for homeless individuals proposed in Russia

Labor rehabilitation program for homeless individuals proposed in Russia

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The Public Chamber and the Russian Government have proposed a program for the "identification and rehabilitation of individuals without a fixed place of residence" to be implemented across the country. This project, reported by Vedomosti on July 11, has been met with criticism from human rights activists who called it a "modern form of slavery."

The Council for Trusteeship in the Social Sphere and the Public Chamber have suggested the adoption of a procedure for "identifying and providing living arrangements for individuals without a fixed place of residence" throughout Russia. The Ministry of Social Development of the Moscow region has developed this project. If the proposal is accepted, law enforcement officers will begin taking homeless individuals to designated facilities for fingerprinting. Men will be directed to workhouses, while women will be sent to crisis centers.

Darya Baibakova, the director of Moscow's Nochlezhka, has criticized the authorities' idea, viewing it as a means to legitimize workhouses that effectively represent "a modern form of slavery" in Russia. She is also skeptical about the provision allowing a homeless person to refuse to be sent to a workhouse. Baibakova emphasized, in a conversation with 7x7, that very few would challenge the police. Plus, the implementation of these recommendations would violate the rights of the homeless, particularly their right to voluntary labor and freedom of movement.

“In workhouses, individuals are coerced into performing strenuous physical labor in exchange for shelter and food, without any official registration or contract, and outside the regulations of the Labor Code. They are kept there for as long as they are capable of working, receiving meager payment for their unofficial work. Consequently, they lack the opportunity to save money, acquire the rights to a pension based on length of service, or escape their state of homelessness. Once a person's physical strength wanes, they find themselves back on the streets in an even worse situation. This will ultimately result in an increased number of homeless people, which will require even greater resources to aid them," asserts the Nochlezhka representative.

According to Darya Baibakova, the implementation of this recommendation may "visually reduce the number of homeless individuals on the streets," but it will not address the issue of homelessness per se.

In late June, Yakutsk Mayor Yevgeny Grigoriev suggested the establishment of labor camps for the homeless. He claimed that they engage in drunkenness, corruption, and the defacement of public spaces. However, Yakutsk residents on social media refuted his claims, stating that they had not witnessed homeless individuals engaging in corrupt behavior. One commentator even suggested creating labor camps for officials who violate the law.



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