Put in a word for the poor trial attorneys


29 November 2016

Yesterday, on 28 November 2016, the Moscow City Court declared legal the refusal issued by investigator Igor Krasnov concerning the access of trial attorney Evgeny Gubin to his client Temirlan  Eskerkhanov at Pre-Trial Detention Facility # 6. Human rights defenders from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture state that despite the explanations of the Constitutional and the Supreme Courts, as well as despite the principled stand of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, the problem of attorneys’ access to their clients without the investigator’s authorization has not been resolved yet.

(Source of the photo: http://pravo.ru)

Let us remind you that on 1 October of last year during the meeting of the President with the Council for Development of Civic Institutions and Human Rights the problem of denial of access for attorneys to pre-trial detention facilities was discussed. 

Having listened to the speech of the Council member Yury Kostanov, Vladimir Putin responded as follows: “Yury Artemovich, as to the problem of denial of access for attorneys to perform their professional duties, I even find it difficult to answer anything, so to speak, since it is the first time that I have heard of the problems of this kind. If such an issue does indeed exist please provide me with your observations and comments. General Prosecutor Office should deal with this directly, since ensuring the citizens rights is its duty. If some additional rulings are required at the level of the Supreme Court or other instances, or some additions need to be introduced to the law, let us do it. I agree with you, of course. And then, probably, there will be less judicial errors when innocent people are convicted to incarceration for punishment, or penal measures are too harsh and ungrounded. Please provide me with your suggestions, observations and analysis of current situation in judicial practice”.

The law-makers responded to Putin’s words quite promptly and, as early as in December 2015, legislative proposal on introducing changes in the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation prohibiting the investigators to demand any authorizations for access to pre-trial detention facilities from attorneys was registered and submitted to the Chairman of the State Duma of Russia. 

However, as early as on 18 January 2016 the legislative proposal was returned to the deputy who initiated it due to failure to comply with the State Duma procedure. Over ten months passed since that time, but no other initiative on this issue was submitted by the deputies. 

Lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Sergey Babinets comments: “In our view, no change in legislation is required to solve this problem – what is really needed is just a clear stand of the Prosecutor’s Office, the duty of which to react to the violations of the law. Way back fifteen years ago the Constitutional and the Supreme Courts explained that no investigator’s authorization is needed for the attorney to visit his client, but only his ID and an order”.

“Unfortunately, despite the attorneys’ attempts to insist on observance of the rights stipulated in the constitutional law of Russia, the law enforcement officials continue to abuse their power and pretend that no rulings or regulations exist at all. Unfortunately, as we see in this specific example, the courts are often indulging to them – over and over again denying the attorney’s right to access to his client. Meanwhile, the attorneys keep haunting thresholds of the offices, crowding in the departments’ corridors, trying to catch hold of the investigator’s elbow and  solicit for an authorization to access the pre-trial facility from him. Sometimes it takes weeks and months. Naturally, the convicts suffer from such crazy heel dragging, because the investigators use this practice to hide them from their attorneys, preventing from their prompt reaction to complaints of battery and torture, which are quite common during the apprehension and prior to putting in the pre-trial detention facility. And while the investigator is making the attorney chase after him, bruises on the client’s body are successfully going away”, – Babinets thinks. 

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