About half of Russian nationals fear torture if arrested


13 May 2014

This is the result of a survey conducted in Russia within the framework of global «Stop Torture» campaign from the international human rights organization «Amnesty International». At the press conference, held on May 13 in Nizhny Novgorod, Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Representative Office in the Russian Federation, introduced the launch and research data of the campaign. The Chairman of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» Igor Kalyapin and businessman Oleg Krayushkin, who had been tortured by the police with the purpose to obtain false testimony and self-incriminating statements from him, took part in the event.

At the beginning of the press conference Sergei Nikitin reported on the results of the research conducted by Amnesty International in Russia: of people polled, 48% indicated they fear torture if taken into custody, and the majority of respondents (82 percent) spoke in favor of clear and unambiguous laws that could protect them from torture.

«It is notable that 66% of Russians do not justify the use of torture, even when it comes to global security or antiterrorist protection, while, for instance in the USA, this rate is different – 53%. Thus, the existence of Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp might be a direct consequence of more loyal attitudes toward torture in the United States», stressed the speaker.

Worldwide (21 countries), the survey showed that the overwhelming majority (82%) stand for the indispensability of unambiguous laws prohibiting torture. Nevertheless, more than a third of respondents (36%) still believe that the use of torture can be justified under certain circumstances.

Sergey Nikitin also spoke about the launch of the global campaign by Amnesty International, which began with publication of the briefing «Torture in 2014: 30 years of broken promises», which provides an overview of the use of torture in the world today: «In 1984 the UN adopted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Over the past years, 155 countries have ratified the document. In 142 of these countries Amnesty International carries out relevant researches, and in 2014 we observe torture at least in 79 of them. This is more than half the states party to the Convention that the organization reports on. A further 40 UN Member States haven’t adopted the Convention, although the global legal ban on torture binds them too», says the official report of this international human rights organization.

Chairman of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» Igor Kalyapin, speaking on the name of the international action «Torture in 2014: 30 years of broken promises», drew a parallel with our State: «Our country joined the UN Convention against Torture at once, back in 1984. However, Russia hasn’t even codified the elements of the crime of torture, in the meaning complying with the Convention ratified 30 years ago, into its Criminal Code. The term “torture», which we find in Articles 117 and 302 of Russian Criminal Code, has nothing to do with the notion of «torture” as it is defined in the UN Convention».

Even so, Igor Kalyapin stressed that, in his opinion, there are sufficient provisions in Russian national law that, if applied, can protect citizens from torture. The Constitution, federal laws and numerous department acts impose the absolute ban on torture. However, the number of torture victims is not decreasing.

As an example if existing but idle mechanisms to prevent torture Mr Kalyapin mentioned the special department for investigating police ill-treatment, which was introduced within the Investigative Committee about two years ago: «The order issued by Mr Bastrykin to establish the special department was great, it could have contributed to the fight against torture significantly. Unfortunately, a few months later it appeared that as few as 38 investigators had been assigned to deal with 60-80 thousand torture complaints filed in Russia every year. For instance, there are only 3 investigators in charge of torture complains in Volga Federal District. According to my calculations, each of them is to receive from 5 to 7 complaints every day. They might have enough time to read them all, but not to investigate. Moreover, our practice shows that less than 1% of torture complaints are transferred to this department».

Oleg Krayushkin, an entrepreneur from Pavlovo city (Nizhny Novgorod region), told his own story, confirming that police torture victims have to seek justice for years. September 11, 2012 he was tortured by officers of the Directorate of the Interior for Nizhny Novgorod region.

According to Mr Krayushkin, after numerous demands to confess to stealing a sawmill, the policemen forced the applicant to take off his boots and to kneel – and started hitting him with a truncheon on his feet. The man also states, that the officers occasionally hit him with his palms in the ears, face, and groin area. The beating lasted for about three hours, but Oleg didn’t crack under the torture, and refused to give false statements. Then he was taken to a temporary detention facility of Sosnovskoe district police department, and was released in a few days. Authorities brought criminal charges against the businessman, but the case fell apart, and the actual criminals were prosecuted.

As for Oleg Krayushkin, he decided to strive for accountability for the officers, who hadn’t even brought an apology. The man lodged complaints with the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Committee, and applied to human rights defenders from the Committee Against Torture.

The investigator in charge was for more than a year ignoring apparent evidence of torture. He issued eight unlawful refusals to initiate criminal investigation. Only after lawyers with the Committee Against Torture had arranged a polygraph examination of the applicant’s statements and attained Mr Krayushkin’s official meeting with the Head of Regional Investigative Committee Vladimir Stravinskas, the criminal proceedings started. It was on 16 August 2013, a year after the complaints had been lodged.

However, human rights defenders and the victim note that the proceedings lack promptness, and that’s putting it mildly. First investigative activities were carried out in April 2014.

At the end of the press conference Sergey Nikitin said that Amnesty International’s global work against torture would continue, and it would monitor the situation in Russia closely. During the next two years the organization will focus in particular on five countries where torture is rife (Mexico; Philippines; Morocco and Western Sahara; Nigeria; and Uzbekistan), believing that it can have a significant impact there.

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