Comrades’ Courts

Statute on Comrades’ Courts. October 24, 1959

 

Original Source: Izvestiia, 24 October 1959, p. 2.

Tasks and Organization of Comrades’ Courts

Art. 1. Comrades’ courts are elected public agencies charged with actively contributing to the inculcation in citizens of a spirit of a communist attitude toward labor and socialist property and the observance of the rules of social 1st society, and with developing among Soviet people a sense of collectivism and mutual comradely assistance and of respect for the dignity and honor of citizens. The chief duty of the comrades’ courts is to prevent violations of the law and behavior detrimental to the public, to educate people by persuasion and public influence, and to create an intolerant attitude toward any antisocial act. The comrades’ courts are invested with the trust of the collective and express its will.

Art. 2. Comrades’ courts shall be set up at enterprises, institutions, organizations and higher and specialized secondary schools by decision of a general meeting of the workers and employees or of the students.

Rural comrades’ courts and comrades’ courts at collective farms, producers’ cooperatives, housing bureaus, apartment house managements and street committees shall be set up by decision of a general meeting of the collective farm or producers’ cooperative, house residents or citizens of the village or settlement, in agreement with the executive committee of the respective village, settlement, district or city Soviet.

Comrades’ courts may be set up in collectives numbering at least 50 persons.

Art. 3. Comrades’ courts shall be elected for a term of two years by open ballot at general meetings of the workers’ collectives. Meetings to elect comrades’ courts shall be called by factory or local trade union committees, the boards of collective farms or producers’ cooperatives or the executive committees of local Soviets.

Those who receive a majority vote of more than half of those present at the meeting shall be considered elected members of the court.

The number of members of the court shall be fixed by the general meeting. The members of the court shall elect from among themselves by open vote a chairman of the comrades’ court, vice-chairmen and a secretary of the court.

Art. 4. Comrades’ courts shall report on their work to general meetings of the electors at least once a year.

Members of the comrades’ court who fail to justify the trust placed in them may be recalled by a general meeting. Election of new members of comrades’ courts to replace those who have been recalled or have dropped out for other reasons shall be held in the manner stipulated in Arts. 2 and 3 of the present Statute.

Cases Heard by Comrades’ Courts.–Art. 5. Comrades’ courts at enterprises, institutions, organizations, state and collective farms and producers’ cooperatives and rural comrades’ courts shall hear cases involving:

1) violation of labor discipline, including: absence from work without valid reason; arriving at work late or leaving before the end of the working day; coming to work in an intoxicated condition; poor quality work, allowing defective output, or idle time resulting from a worker’s unconscientious attitude toward his duties; failure to observe the rules and regulations on industrial safety; and a negligent attitude toward state or public property;

2) the illegal use of state or public materials, equipment or transport, so long as it does not involve any considerable loss to the state or to public organizations.

Art. 6. The comrades’ courts enumerated in Art. 5 and other comrades’ courts shall also hear cases involving:

1) the shirking of socially useful labor and living a parasitical life;

2) failure to fulfill the duties of bringing up children, and failure to give aid to aged parents;

3) abusive language and assault, and circulating false rumors within a collective that slander a member of the collective, when such acts are first offenses or when there is an application by the injured party or a petition by the public;

4) petty poaching, petty violations of forestry regulations and the trampling or damaging of crops;

5) petty speculation, petty misappropriation of state or public property, petty hooliganism when a first offense, drunkenness, foul language, petty arrogance and petty violations of trade regulations;

6) illicit home distillation without intent to sell, when committed for the first time, or making or owning apparatus for home distillation;

7) the damaging of living or other premises or communal equipment, or trees or other greenery;

8) violation of apartment regulations and disputes by tenants concerning payment for communal services or the use of auxiliary rooms, apartment house services or land plots;

9) property disputes between citizens involving sums of up to 500 rubles, or, if both parties agree, up to 1000 rubles;

10) disputes involving division or apportionment of a peasant household, if both parties agree;

11) violations of administrative regulations or the commission of antisocial acts not specified in Art. 5 or the preceding paragraphs of the present article, if the militia or other administrative agencies turn the case over to the comrades’ court for consideration, and also crimes, so long as they do not constitute a grave public danger and are first offenses and provided that the court, prosecutor, investigating agencies, militia or other inquiry agencies consider it possible to transfer the case to a comrades’ court.

Art. 7. Cases of violation of the law or the commission of antisocial acts specified in Art. 5 of the present Statute shall be heard by the comrades’ court at the defendant’s place of work.

Cases of violation of the law or the commission of antisocial acts specified in Art. 6 of the present Statute shall be heard at the comrades’ court at the defendant’s place of work or, if he is not working, at his place of residence. In certain instances, in order to ensure the greatest educational influence on the offender and on other citizens, the case of a- violation of the law or the commission of an antisocial act by a person who is working may be heard, upon agreement with the public organizations at his place of work, by the comrades’ court at his place of residence.

4) property disputes between citizens, as provided for in the statutes on the comrades’ courts.

To establish that whenever a comrades’ court becomes convinced in the course of hearing a case that administrative or criminal proceedings should be instituted against the offender, the comrades’ court shall forward the documents of the case to the appropriate administrative agency, militia, prosecutor’s office or court.

Art. 5. To grant a court or prosecutor, and also investigating agencies, militia and other inquiry agencies in consultation with the prosecutor, the right, upon the presentation of a petition from a public organization or workers’ collective, to halt criminal proceedings in the case of a person who has committed a crime that represents no great public danger and who has honorably confessed, and to turn the offender over to the custody of the public organization or collective for re-education and reform.

A petition to assume custody of an offender shall be adopted only at a. general meeting of a public organization or workers’ collective.

Proceedings shall not be halted as specified above in the event that a person in whose name a petition has been entered pleads not guilty and insists upon a court hearing.

Art. 6. If an offender’s case is referred to a comrades’ court or he is transferred to the custody of a petitioning organization, he is not absolved of the obligation to make due compensation, in the manner specified by law, for any material. damage he has caused the state, public organizations or citizens.

Art. 7. A person who has committed a serious crime, or a person who has committed a second premeditated offense if he has been convicted for the first offense and his criminal record has neither been canceled prior to the expiration of the period specified by law nor expired according to the procedure specified by law, shall not be released in custody.

Art. 8. A public organization or workers’ collective shall assume supervision of the conduct of a person released in its custody and take all necessary steps to reform his character.

If within a year the person in custody shows by his exemplary conduct and honest labor that he has reformed, the public organization or workers’ collective shall so report to the court or prosecutor’s office.

If the person in custody fails to observe the rules of socialist society and resists re-education, the public organization or workers’ collective shall withdraw its custody and shall so inform the prosecutor’s office or the court, which will decide whether to reinstate prosecution of the Case.

Art. 9. To grant the supervisory committees of local Soviet executive committees, at the request of public organizations or workers’ collectives or on their own initiative, the right to recommend to the courts the parole or early release of a convicted person or the commutation of his sentence upon the completion of the period stipulated in Arts. 44 and 45 of the Principles of Criminal Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics and the fulfillment of the other conditions set forth in those articles.

The procedure for checking on paroled persons and on educational work with them during the probationary period is established by legislation of the Union republics.

Art. 10. The courts, prosecutor’s offices, investigating agencies, militia and other inquiry agencies must enlist public aid to a greater extent in uncovering and eliminating the causes and conditions leading to the commission of crimes, as well as in exposing crimes and apprehending criminals.

The heads of enterprises, institutions, organizations and collective farms, acting upon court rulings and injunctions from prosecutors and militia agencies or on their own initiative, must take the necessary measures, in cooperation with the public, to remove the causes and conditions leading to the commission of crimes.

Art. 11. To charge the courts when necessary, in order to strength7n the educative role of court trials in preventing crimes, to inform working people at their places of work or their homes of forthcoming court trials, and also to inform them of the results of the hearing of the criminal case after the sentence has entered into effect.

To practice more widely the hearing of cases directly at enterprises, construction projects and state and collective farms, with the participation if necessary of public accusers and public defenders.

To report through the press and radio individual cases of public interest heard by the people’s and comrades’ courts.

Art. 12. The executive committees of local Soviets and the heads of enterprises, institutions and organizations are to ensure employment for persons released from places of confinement after serving their term or before the expiration of their term. Public organizations are to assist these citizens in finding work and are to help create the necessary living conditions for them.

Art. 13. To establish that cases of administrative offenses shall be handled by the administrative committees of the local Soviet executive committees , with the participation of the public. To this end, representatives of trade union, Young Communist League and other public organizations should be included on the administrative committees.

Art. 14. To acknowledge it necessary for Soviet trade union, Komsomol and other public organizations to intensify educational and cultural-enlightenment work in the struggle against alcoholism. To subject to public discussion cases of drunkenness and of unworthy conduct while in an intoxicated condition. To summon offenders to give public explanations before meetings at enterprises, institutions and organizations, and if necessary to refer such cases to the comrades’ courts.

Art. 15. To instruct the Union-republic Supreme Soviets to adopt legislation ensuring that the public is drawn into the struggle against alcoholism. This legislation should provide for the liability of persons who appear on the streets and in public places in an intoxicated condition and who offend public decency, and also for the liability of workers in trade and public catering who violate the established rules for the sale of alcoholic beverages or who lead minors into drunkenness.

The violation of official or occupational duties while in a state of intoxication is to be regarded as a circumstance aggravating the severity of the offense.

Art. 16. To grant people’s courts the right, at the request of public organizations, workers’ collectives or public health agencies, to commit alcoholics to institutions with special medical and work regimens for compulsory treatment.

A people’s court may decide to commit a person for compulsory treatment at the recommendation of a medical institution and provided the court has interviewed the person in question and also representatives of the workers’ collective, organization or institution requesting the committal.

The compulsory treatment shall be terminated by decision of the medical institution where the person is being treated.

Art. 17. To establish that the activities of citizens in safeguarding public order and combating violations are under the protection of the law. To instruct the Union-republic Supreme Soviets to penalize abusive language, violence or threats of violence directed at citizens who are performing their duties in the safeguarding of public order.

Citizens who engage actively in the struggle against public disturbances and crime shall be encouraged and rewarded by state agencies and public organizations.

Art. 18. To set up commissions for cases involving minors under the Soviet executive committees of districts and boroughs, cities (in cities without borough division and cities of republic subordination), regions, provinces and territories, and also under the Councils of Ministers of the autonomous republics and of Union republics without province division; these commissions shall have the duty of carrying out measures for combating the neglect of minors and violations of the law by minors and of organizing the work of preventing such violations.

The commissions for cases involving minors shall be set up by the Soviet executive committees and shall consist of Deputies to the Soviets, representatives of public organizations, and workers in public education, public health and social security and in institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The commissions shall rely in their activities on a broad aktiv of representatives of public organizations and workers’ collectives and shall carry out their work in cooperation with trade union, Komsomol and other public organizations, the standing committees of local Soviets, parents’ committees of the schools, commissions for assistance under apartment house managements and street committees, and also with cultural-enlightenment and other institutions.

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XI, No. 43 (1960), p. 15.

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