Human rights defenders from the INGO «Committee Against Torture» received a copy of the order on institution of criminal proceedings against unidentified officers of Penal Colony No.14 (Nizhny Novgorod region, Sukhobezvodnoe settlement) under Article 286 (3)(a) of Russian Criminal Code (exceeding official powers with use of violence).
In order on institution of criminal proceedings dated 14 July 2014 investigator Chernyshov stipulated the following: «In the time period from April 2014 till the second ten-day period of June 2014, the investigation failed to established more precise dates, unidentified officials from the staff of Penal Colony no. 14 (FKU IK-11) of Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod region repeatedly organized physical violence against the detained individual under investigation who was kept in the premises functioning in the mode of investigative isolator (PFRSI) of Penal Colony No. 14 (FKU IK-11) of Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod region, inflicting injuries on him using unidentified convicts of this colony».
As we have previously reported, a person under investigation applied to the Public Monitoring Committee for human rights oversight in the places of detention for Nizhny Novgorod region (hereinafter – PMC) and informed about facts of brutal torture he was subjected to in Penal Colony No.14 (Nizhny Novgorod region, Sukhobezvodnoe settlement). Human rights defenders applied to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Investigative Committee, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia demanding to protect this individual from torture and conduct effective investigation of the reported facts. They also provided the victim with an advocate for defending his rights. However, despite the fact that the crime report was filed to Semenovsky Interdistrict Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for Nizhny Novgorod region back on June 11, its head, Aleksey Yuzhin, thought fit to start necessary investigative actions only on June 19 and only after corresponding motions of the advocate. On June 23 Mr.Yuzhin extended the time period for pre-investigation enquiry of the crime report for 30 more days.
Due to the fact that the applicant was in real danger the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) asking to grant interim measures with relation to it. Strasbourg satisfied the human rights defenders’ claim and demanded from the Russian Federation authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the suspect’s safety and conduct the efficient inquiry concerning the complaint about torture in the colony.
On 21 July 2014 human rights defenders were informed about the initiation of criminal proceedings.
Deputy Chairman of PMC for Nizhny Novgorod region, lawyer with INGO «Committee Against Torture» Oleg Khabibrakhmanov commented: «This colony has been attracting our attention for a long time, since there have been regular reports about torture and sexual violence in this institution. But as soon as we tried to conduct public investigation people who applied to us for assistance withhold their testimony, apparently having been subjected to torture again. In this case the proceedings were initiated only after the facts of violence and torture were impossible to conceal. In addition, according to the suspect, he was subjected to torture even after the pre-investigation inquiries started. It shows that the colony officers were so convinced in their impunity that even the real threat of criminal action did not stop them. We are worried that the suspect still remains in the institution where, according to his reports, he was subjected to torture. Numerous reports on the situation in Penal Colony No. 14 have been sent to the management of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia as well as of its branch for Nizhny Novgorod region, but the response was always the same – «no confirmation of the information was found», and at the peak of developments, when the European Court of Human Rights passed a decision on urgent safety measures, the website of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Nizhny Novgorod region reported that the results of Penal Colony No.14 operation for the first six months of 2014 were considered satisfactory. We are falling under impression that the information about torture in this colony does not bother the Federal Penitentiary Service at all».
The head of Investigation Department of Nizhny Novgorod branch of INGO «Committee Against Torture» Dmitry Utukin: «I certainly would have been glad if the criminal proceedings against the officers of Penal Colony No.14 had initiated in due time, if the applicant had been ensured safety, if necessary actions for preservation of evidence had been conducted… Unfortunately, none of this was done. It seemed the investigator was forced to initiate these proceedings under the stress of objective evidence. We cannot but hope that «working» during the pre-investigation inquiry did not destroy all the evidence in the case and the regional management of the Investigative Committee will be able to make the investigators from the Semenovsky division efficiently investigate the newly initiated criminal case. In our turn, we shall be closely following it, and taking part in the case as the official representatives of the applicant. In the nearest future we are going to send a number of motions for conducting the necessary investigative activities».