European Court has obliged Russia to ensure security of the person under investigation who reported about tortures in Penal Colony No.14 of Nizhny Novgorod


01 July 2014

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has satisfied the application of the lawyers of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» on granting interim measures for claimant and obliged the Russian Federation authorities to perform all necessary measures ensuring his safety. In addition, the ECHR demanded to arrange medical examination of the claimant by doctors who are independent from the penitentiary system bodies, in order to identify the causes of injuries described in the application submitted by the human rights defenders.

Due to the fact that the complaint was urgently communicated by the Court, the Russian Federation authorities are obliged to provide answers to a number of  questions by July 18, supporting them by official documentation:

–  when and for what reason the claimant was transferred to Penal Colony No. 14 (FKU IK-14) of Central Administration of Federal Penitentiary Service for Nizhny Novgorod region (hereinafter IK-14), the authorities are obliged to provide documentation with rationale of this transfer;

– the authorities are obliged to provide copies of all medical documents where the claimant’s condition by the time of his transfer to IK-14 is identified;

– where exactly was the claimant kept in IK-14, the authorities are obliged to provide the numbers of cells and inform to what extent the premise functioning in the mode of investigative isolator IK-14 (hereinafter – PFRSI) is isolated from the rest of the colony;

–  whether the detainees have access to PFRSI, quarantine cells and internal prison yard for walks;

– whether the claimant had access to doctors and advocate after April 10, 2014, the state authorities are obliged to provide the corresponding documents, as well as all medical records related to the claimant’s condition for April, May, June 2014;

– the authorities are also obliged to describe measures that were taken for the claimant’s protection after the first beating;

– whether the claimant was examined by the doctor after the battery on June 12-13, 2014, the authorities are obliged to answer if the injuries on the claimant’s body and head, the photos of which were provided to the Court, were registered;

– whether the Penal Colony’s paramedic refused to examine the claimant on June 20, 2014 upon request of the members of the Public Monitoring Commission for human rights oversight in the places of detention for Nizhny Novgorod region (hereinafter – PMC);

– whether the claimant’s representatives were granted access to medical records about his condition.

Apart from above-mentioned the Russian Federation Authorities are obliged to provide the ECHR with the copies of all the materials of the pre-investigation inquiry (or criminal case), initiated based on the claimant’s getting injured. The authorities are obliged to provide comprehensive information on what investigative activities were conducted in relation to this case, what was done to ensure the protection of evidence. For example, whether the video recording was on in the corresponding premises and whether these records are kept.

In addition, taking into consideration the circumstances of a very personal character, described in the claim and related to the episodes of sexual violence, the European Court decided to apply the Rule 47 of the Court’s Procedure to this case and classify the information on the claimant’s identity, which at the moment is known only to his representatives, the ECHR and Russian authorities.  Neither of the parties of the ECHR trial can disclose the claimant’s identity.

A person under investigation applied to the Public Monitoring Commission 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 described 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 as early as 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 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.

«Since Rule 39 of the ECHR Procedure is not often applied by the Court, it can therefore be concluded that the claimant’s situation is more than serious and, in my opinion, it will remain such even after his transfer to the other penal institution, –  comments Deputy Chairman of Interregional NGO «The Committee Against Torture», the head of the International Protection Department Olga Sadovskaya. – Taking into account that the individual under investigation is charged with the crime not related with violence and he is not potentially dangerous to other people in the community, I think that he can be placed under house arrest.

In addition, it is necessary to note the attempts to put pressure on advocate Evgeny Gubin, who was provided by the human rights defenders for the claimant to protect his rights, by the administration of IK-14. We are informed that a complaint was lodged against the advocate stating that he did not let the penitentiary officers familiarize themselves with the content of the documents signed by the claimant and meant for the European Court. These demands of the institution administration officers definitely violate the warranty of legal defense that the victim of human rights violations has according to the ECHR practice.

Back in 2010 in execution of the ECHR decisions the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation held that the censorship of the correspondence of an individual under investigation with his advocate is possible only in cases when the institution’s administration have reasonable grounds to believe it contains unlawful enclosures (which is checked only in presence of the suspect), or there is a reasonable suspicion that the advocate abuses his advocate secrets privilege, the correspondence endangers the security of the institution or is unlawful in some other respect. Unfortunately the IK-14 officers have hardly any knowledge about the practice of the Constitutional Court».

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