The site of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Administration site published the report of the Russian Federation for 2012-2016 for the Committee Against Tortures (hereinafter – the Committee) dedicated to the list of measures taken by our country to prevent tortures. The lawyers of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture studied this document and found it rather superficial and vague.
Lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Ekaterina Vanslova:
“The Russian Federation presented a report for 2012-2016 in the form of the answers to the questions that were put to the UN by the Committee. The range of the questions is wide and touches upon quite specific problems relating to the use of tortures in our state.
However, this report (as all other previous official documents of our country) contains mostly the information about the legislative, administrative, and institutional means of protection human rights and also some general wordings. Meanwhile the information about the real situation concerning the use of tortures in Russia and reasons of this phenomenon is clearly not sufficient. Moreover, some items of this report make one feel bewildered due to the discrepancy with the reality and obvious attempts to avoid direct answers.
For example, the statistical reporting. Last time the Committee asked Russia “to submit statistical data on the number of investigations of the tortures, cruel treatment initiated as a result of visits of the Public Monitoring Commission, as well as the information on the results of such investigations.” Answering this question, Russia stated the following facts in the report: “Within the framework of the development of relations with human rights organizations 1,158 checks of special institutions were conducted in 2015 by the members of the Public Monitoring Commission; in 2014 – 1,158; in 2013 – 771. The analysis of such checks reveals no deliberate acts performed by officers and derogating the rights and freedoms of persons kept in these special police institutions.”
And the analysis used as the basis to make such peremptory conclusion was not submitted. And it is not clear why the answer was given only for the Ministry of the Interior system. Besides, according to the data of the report for 2014, as well as for 2015 the number of the conducted checks of the special police institutions was exactly 1,158. An amazing coincidence of the number of visits for these two years makes one doubt the reliability of this data, all the more so that the RF authorities did not indicate the sources.
The statistics on the number of the crimes (provided by Articles 117, 286 and 302 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) provided in the report, gives no chance to draw any conclusions about the real practice of bringing to responsibility for the violation of the prohibition to use tortures.
So, Article 117 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Torture”) is not applicable to law-enforcement officers, as using tortures is considered as crime of officials and is classified different Articles (286, 302) of the Criminal Code.
The provided statistics for Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Abuse of office”) does not reflect the true picture as torture is classified only according to Part 3 of the given Article, and there is no break-down per parts in the report.
But the data revealing that from 2012 till the middle of 2016 only three criminal cases were taken to court based on Article 302 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Compulsion of evidence”) clearly shows that this article of the Code virtually does not work.
There is no information for many other questions at all. For example, Russia indicates that “no statistics of the number of cases where confessions received as a result of tortures were acknowledged illegal has been found in the forms of the primary statistical recording and in the forms of statistical recording of the results of the hearings of criminal and civil cases at the courts of the Russian Federation.”
It is interesting that the reporting periods in the report are always different. For example, the data on the number of crimes provided by Articles 117, 286 and 302 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, were submitted for 2012-2016, and the statistics data on the number of deaths in the facilities of Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia were provided only for 2013-2015.
The previous recommendation of the Committee to provide statistical data with the break-down per sex, age, ethnic identity, citizenship, the type and location of the detention facility and involuntary detention which is necessary for the monitoring of the adherence to the Convention, has not been followed.
The answer of Russia concerning the functioning of the special branch of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation is quite interesting. Let us remind you that in 2012 human rights defenders offered the Investigative Committee to create a special branch which would be specializing solely on investigating the crimes committed by the employees of the law-enforcement agencies. The initiative of the human rights defenders was supported, but the structure and the number of the special branch make it impossible to conduct timely and high-quality investigation of the reports of tortures and cruel treatment. So the Committee asked Russia a question about additional funding of this special branch.
The authorities of the Russian Federation replied that “the staff size of the branch specializing in investigating the crimes committed by the officers of the law-enforcement agencies of the Main Investigative Office of the Investigative Committee of Russia is 10 employees. Allocating separate funding for the branch is not planned”.
For some reason the report says only about the number of the staff of the special branch in the central office of the Investigative Committee and does not mention anything about similar special branches in the district offices of the Investigative Committee, Main Investigations Directorate for Moscow, Moscow region and Saint Petersburg.
Nevertheless, it is clear even for a non-specialist that the established structure and the number of the staff of the special branches make it impossible to conduct timely and high-quality investigation of all received reports on tortures and cruel treatment. We can speak only about investigation of a small number of selected cases. It is obvious that creating a special branch did not change the way of investigating the reports of tortures.
The report also includes some comments about “the activity of some representatives of human rights organizations is destructive and aimed at destabilizing the situation in the corrective facilities”.
Suprisingly, the statistics of the number of unsolved crimes on the facts of forcible disappearances in 2012 was 18, and in 2013– 8, in 2014 – 2, in 2015 – 1.
In addition, the report says that the investigators of the investigative division of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Chechen Republic were working with 2 criminal cases on unsolved forcible disappearances of people in 2012 – 2015, the investigative division of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for North Ossetia – Alania had 7 criminal cases, the investigative division of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Republic of Dagestan – 17 criminal cases, the investigative division of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Republic of Ingushetia – 3 criminal cases.
My colleagues and I were wondering when the cases of Askhabov, Suleimanov, Gaisanova, the Aidamirovs, Zainalova, Zhebrailov, and Elimkhanov disappearing were classified as solved cases. And this concerned disappearances in the territory of the Chechen Republic only.
Now Russian human rights defenders have a year to submit a joint alternative report to the Committee by November 2017 which will complement the official report of the Russian Federation, including the statistical issues.
Basing on the results of the consultations with Russian non-government organizations and reviewing the official report of the Russian authorities the Committee will take final commentaries in 2017 where it will indicate the existing “tortures” problems in Russia and present a list of recommendations for the RF aimed at changing the situation.”
Head of International Legal Assistance of the Committee for the Prevention of Tortures Olga Sadovskaya:
“I took part in reviewing the periodic and alternative reports of Russia in the Committee Against Tortures in UN several times. The most efficient year when the authorities were ready to listen and to follow the recommendations was 2006, and this year resulted in establishing the Investigative Committee which we set great hopes on. Unfortunately, many of our hopes have not come true yet, but we keep insisting that the authorities create a functioning effective independent mechanism for investigating complaints of tortures.”
The Committee Against Tortures is a UN body, monitoring the execution of the Convention Against Tortures by the state-members. Every four years all country-members, including Russia, have to submit to the Committee the reports on the execution of the rights provided by the Convention. The Committee considers each report and states its considerations and recommendations for each country-member in the form of “the final commentaries”.