Russian authorities fail to comply with recommendations by the UN Committee Against Torture


18 February 2014

This is the conclusion of Russian human rights defenders with the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture», who applied to the UN Committee Against Torture («the Committee») asking it to put questions to the Russian Federation concerning implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee following consideration of the report on measures taken to eradicate torture filed by Russia in November 2012.

In their letter to the Committee human rights defenders state that Russian authorities so far have not taken steps to solve the main problems identified by the Committee in the course of its 49-th session. Here are some of them.

– Torture and ill-treatment are still widespread in Russia. Law enforcement officials who use torture, participate in it, or give their tacit consent, in most situations remain unpunished;

– There are still discrepancies between the definition of torture in the national law (Article 117 of Russian Criminal Code) and Article 1 of the UN Convention on Prevention of Torture. Proceedings under excising Article 117 are very limited, and state officials are hardly ever found guilty of torture usage;

– Russian authorities fail to carry out prompt, effective and independent investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment used by public officials. The special subdivision created within the Investigative Committee, tasked solely with investigating crimes allegedly committed by law enforcement officials, is ineffective for at least three reasons. This subdivision has an inadequate number of staff members (just 84 investigators) to promptly and effectively investigate all complaints (which are about 60 thousands per year). The Investigative Committee regulations lack distribution of authority between the subdivision and regular territorial units. Torture victims can not complain directly to the subdivision.

Russian human rights defenders also stressed that the Committee brought to the attention of Russian authorities that such rights as access to a lawyer and medical assistance, the right to inform relatives or any other person they choose are not guaranteed, either by the law or in practice, to all people deprived of their liberty. The State only partly complied with the Committee’s detailed recommendations on this issue.

Lawyers working with the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture» have once again highlighted the situation of gross human rights violations, including torture and ill-treatment, committed by security and law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasus, particularly in Chechnya.

The full statement is available here.

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