Inaction of the police does not violate the citizens’ constitutional rights


05 April 2018

That was the ruling of the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, and then of the Nizhegorodsky Regional Court. They decided that the fact that head of Police Department No.7 Aleksandr Golubtsov repeatedly ignored human rights motions requesting to familiarize with the materials of the check based on the fact of Sergey Protasov’s death does not violate constitutional rights of the relatives of the deceased and does not give them the right to apply to court.

As we have previously reported, on 28 January 2014 Mikhail Protasov applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance – he asked human rights defenders to conduct public investigation of the death of his brother Sergey, who died on 21 January of the same year at hospital after he was taken there from the special detention room of the Ministry of the Interior for the administratively arrested. Mikhail was convinced that one way or the other it was the police officers who were responsible for his brother’s death.

Human rights defenders immediately submitted a crime report to the Investigative Committee, the latter predictably replied with a refusal to initiate criminal proceedings.
In the framework of the public investigation lawyers of the Committee Against Torture examined the video record from the surveillance camera of Police Department No.7 where Protasov was taken from the special detention room for drawing up a report of administrative violation – he was in the state of drug intoxication.

In the course of this video record examination it turned out that the official version stating that numerous hematomas on Protasov’s body could develop due to his own unconscious actions was confirmed. At the same time the video record revealed at least three more violations: rough treatment of administratively arrested Protasov by the police officers, failure to apply special means of restrain of movement, failure to render medical assistance to a person in a helpless state by the police officers during a long time, failure to render medical assistance by an ambulance paramedic.

In addition, in the course of the public investigation human rights defenders received a copy of the materials of the check performed by the officers of the field investigation unit of the Internal Security Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region. Based on its results it was revealed that the actions of one of the officers of Police Department No.7 showed the elements of crime under part 2 Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Russia («Neglect of duty»): «Improper performance by (full name of the police officer – note of editor) of his duty due to careless or negligent attitude led to inflicting grave bodily injuries to administratively arrested S.A.Protasov and his subsequent death».

Despite the conducted agency check criminal proceedings have never been initiated.
No criminal case was initiated against the paramedics either – according to the opinion of the police officer of the same police department No 7, actions of the medics lack “express malice” directed on non-providing medical assistance to the afflicted person. At the present time eight refusals to initiate criminal proceedings are issued following the results of the check.

Lawyers of the Committee Against Torture repeatedly submitted motions to Police Department No. 7 asking to provide them the materials of the check for familiarization, however, there have not been not a single response to any of their motions.

Due to that human rights defenders applied to the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod with a complaint against inaction of head of Police Department No.7 Aleksandr Golubtsov. However, the District Court refused to examine the complaint altogether, having recommended to human rights defenders to apply to Mr Golubtsov’s superiors or to the Prosecutor’s Office.

This ruling was appealed against at the court of appeals. However, on 3 April 2018 the Nizhegorodsky Regional Court did not detect any violations of criminal and procedural code in the actions of the head of the police department, either. The appellate appeal was dismissed.
“It should be at the discretion of a citizen to decide where he should apply to with a complaint against the violations committed in the framework of the criminal proceedings: to the court, to superiors of the executive who is at fault or to the Prosecutor’s Office, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shounin, representing the interests of Mikhail Protasov, comments. – In Article 125 of the Criminal Procedural Code the unconditional right for any citizen to apply directly to court is assigned. The fact that the courts of the Nizhny Novgorod region interpret the legal norms differently has become a big and an unpleasant surprise to us. We shall definitely appeal against the court rulings under cassational procedure”.

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