On 16-17 March 2015 in Geneva the UN Human Rights Committee reviewed the seventh periodic report of the Russian Federation on fulfilling the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Russian non-governmental human rights groups, in their turn, presented their own alternative report at this session.
As we have already reported, UN Human Rights Committee receives and reviews reports of the member-states (which ratified the Covenant) on what measures are taken by the states in order to comply with the rights indicated in this document. On the basis of report review the Committee provides the member-states with specific binding recommendations.
This time the Russian delegation answered to over a hundred questions and provided information on human rights observance in Russia. A number of Russian human rights groups, including the Committee Against Torture, also provided their consolidated alternative report.
In their official report the Russian Federation representatives indicated the specific measures taken for human rights protection and prevention of their violation. Among other things it was pointed out that specialized subdivisions were established in the Investigative Committee structure to enhance the efficiency of the investigation of crimes of the officials.
The Committee Against Torture in its alternative report commented on this in the following way. Despite the setting up of the «special subdivisions» in 2012 which were aimed at investigating crimes committed by law-enforcement agencies’ representatives, at the present moment we have to acknowledge that this has not made a significant impact on the established situation. The human rights defenders specified that one of the main reasons of this is that these subdivisions are understaffed to the extent that their officers can hardly find time even to read all of the complaints submitted by the citizens let alone conduct necessary investigative activities.
As examples characterizing torture and abduction complaints inefficient investigation by the state authorities the human rights defenders included in their alternative report concrete cases from several regions of Russia where the lawyers of the Committee Against Torture are involved, as well as a list of typical violations of the investigative authorities. They include (but not limited to):
– systematic passing illegal procedural judgments (orders to dismiss criminal complaint, to suspend investigation, etc.);
– systematic failure to conduct planned investigative and follow-up activities;
– systematic violation of motions and complaints assigned consideration time period;
– systematic failure to notify the victims and their representatives on procedural decisions taken based on results of the motions and complaints review;
– systematic violation of the rights of the victims to access case materials (violation in the form of repeated orders to dismiss access of the victims and their representatives to the suspended case materials for examination).
In the nearest future the UN Human Rights Committee is going to develop recommendations addressed to the Russian side on further fulfillment by our state its obligations in the framework of the International Covenant.
«We have provided the UN Human Rights Committee with independent information on problems of applying torture in Russia and inefficient investigation of such cases, providing illustrative examples of specific cases which we are dealing with, – the Committee Against Torture consultant on international law Ekaterina Vanslova comments. – We hope that our information will be taken into account during elaboration of concluding remarks and recommendations in relation to Russia on conducting international obligations at the intrastate level. We also hope that after issuing of recommendations we are going to see some effective actions on improvement of the issues mentioned in them».