This is how the job done by local investigators of the Investigative Committee was characterized by Igor Kalyapin, a member of the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, the Chairman of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture». In the course of the press-conference in Orenburg journalists heard human rights defenders’ opinion only. We remain unaware of the view of the Investigative Committee, the police and the Prosecutor’s Office, for their representatives didn’t visit the event, apparently being not willing to comment on the situation concerning ineffective investigation into torture complaints filed by Orenburg residents.
Previously, on 7 April 2014 lawyers with the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» lodged four applications with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on behalf of several victims who had at different times applied to the CAT for legal assistance. What they have in common is that they had never been able to restore their infringed rights and attain justice at the national level. This problem was the main issue discussed at the conference.
Timur Rakhmatulin, a lawyer working with the Committee Against Torture, was the first to address the journalists. Basing on the practice of the CAT regional branch in Orenburg, he showed the sad statistics: to ninety percent of ill-treatment complaints the Investigative Committee responds with refusals to initiate criminal proceedings. Moreover, Mr Rakhmatulin stressed that the problem of ineffective investigation into unlawful violence at the hands of law enforcement agents is festering from one year to the next, and grows into systematic and ostentatious disregard of the law.
Aleksandr Zhdan and Mister Z., whose interests are represented before the ECHR by the CAT, introduced their stories of inhuman treatment. They both had been tortured by police officers beating false confessions out of them. They both had applied to the human rights defenders for assistance, and had for several years been seeking justice at the national level.
Tatiana Kukisheva represented the regional Ombudsperson’s Office at the event. She expressed willingness to cooperate constructively with the Committee Against Torture. She gave an example of fruitful joint work, which is the case of Vladimir Tkachuk allegedly killed in the local Investigative Isolator. Half a year after his death investigators had at last initiated a criminal investigation under Article 111 (4) of Russian Criminal Code (willful infliction of severe bodily harm entailing by negligence death of a person).
Following up upon the issue, Igor Kalyapin, a member of the Presidium of the Presidential Human Rights Council, the Chairman of the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» expressed confidence that in the four aforementioned applications lodged before the ECHR the Court would establish human rights violations. Mr Kalyapin pointed out the main cause of systematic violations of the kind: «Undoubtedly, each policeman is individually responsible for his crimes against civilians. Nevertheless, the fact that torture thrives and spreads in Russia is to be blamed on the Investigative Committee, as on the competent authority. This is the official structure which totally ignores its direct duty is to carry out an effective investigation into each complaint. It hardly ever investigates allegations against law enforcement agents».
Mr Kalyapin described a number of proceedings, which the regional Investigative Committee is supposed to work on, and, naming numerous unlawful decisions of its investigators, concluded that «it was not work, but a sabotage, a mockery of law and people».