Lawyers of the Interregional Department of the Committee Against Torture have achieved an important decision for law enforcement practice. As one may know, Russian people very often come across situations when law enforcement agencies, in particular the prosecution service, simply ignore complaints and applications. Such actions or better to say inaction of the prosecution service gives it opportunities for concealing from applicants any unlawful decisions made in respect of their applications what makes it impossible for them to file a complaint to a court.
Therefore, dishonest prosecution officials frequently sabotage investigations, violating the provisions of law which require an investigator to inform the applicant about a decision adopted in respect of his or her complaint or application. The court’s decision that has been recently made by the Court Martial in Rostov in the framework of the notorious in the Chechen Republic case of the Amsadovs can change the existing situation for the better. For more than a year already the military prosecutor’s office has been making unlawful decisions. Being aware that all the unlawful decisions are quashed in courts after the Committee’s complaints, a prosecution official decided simply not to inform about the decisions made. When the law-prescribed time limit for informing the applicant expired, experts of the Committee lodged a complaint with a court. During the hearing the representative of the prosecutor’s office stated that the letter had been forwarded to the applicant in time, however the prosecution service did not have to control the delivery. The court disagreed with such an argument and decided that the inaction of the prosecutor’s office was unlawful. Yet, the decision of a garrison court martial was not sound enough for the prosecution officials and they submitted an appeal against it to the Northern Caucasus Court Martial. They again insisted that all they had to do was to send a letter to the applicant (or in fact, make an entry in the journal that it had been sent). But the appeal was dismissed. In its decision the court noted that the prosecution service should not content itself with sending a letter by post, but it must inform the applicants in such a way that ensures the receipt.
Experts of the Committee believe that this decision can influence the law enforcement practice in Russian courts which consider similar cases as well as the attitude of the prosecution service which should be urged by the decision of the Northern Caucasus Court Martial that they must follow the provisions set out by law.
INGO Committee Against Torture