15 years of silence about tortures


16 December 2021

During the meeting that took place from 30 November to 2 December, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe reviewed the execution of the rulings of the European Court in the group of cases “Mikheyev vs Russia” by the Russian authorities. This group of cases is named after Aleksey Mikheyev, the Committee Against Torture’s applicant, whose case became the first case on police torture submitted by a Russian citizen to the ECHR.

Head of the International Legal Remedy Department with the Committee Against Torture Olga Sadovskaya described the significance of this meeting for our country.

The Committee of Ministers is a body of the Council of Europe which consists of representations of Ministries of Foreign Affairs of 47 countries. Russia is also a member of the Council of Europe, and Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, represents Russia in the Committee. The Committee observes the countries of the Council execute the rulings of the ECHR concerning the obligations which they accepted, having obliged to protect the human rights described in the European Convention.

During the meeting, the Committee of the Ministers pointed out that in 15 years the Russian authorities did not provide any new information on torture cases, despite the fact that new complaints submitted by the Russian citizens concerning the violence and torture applied against them are being added to the Mikheyev group of cases.

Based on the tone of the resolution, it is evident to us that the Committee of the Ministers is shocked by the inaction by the Russian side with regard to this issue and urges to take up the following measures:

— Not to use the evidence obtained under torture for compiling the indictments and verdicts

— Follow the practice of the other member states of the Council of Europe, for example, use video cameras for recording interrogations

— Create an independent investigative authority investigating the torture complaints and initiating criminal proceedings without any delay

— Publish the reports of the European Committee on prevention of torture based on the results of the visits in 2013-2016

The resolution adopted by the Committee of the Ministers, includes individual measures which are taken with regard to each specific torture complaint and general measures which relate to the situation as a whole. Now, the Committee of the Ministers awaits the answers from the Russian authorities. The Committee will gather for reviewing the problem in December 2022 already.

This resolution may be very useful now, when the issue of tortures criminalization and introducing an individual article to the Criminal Code about it is being discussed.

The situation, in which the Russian authorities find themselves at the level of the Council of Europe, is uncomfortable, mildly speaking. Forty-six countries look at the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Russia with a question: “Why haven’t you done anything to resolve the problem of torture for 15 years? Why didn’t you even pretend to be doing anything?”

The Ministry of the Foreign Affairs keeps silent. So does Russia.

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