Lawyers of interregional nongovernmental organization «The Committee Against Torture» have applied to the Investigative Committee with a crime report with video and audio records attached, as well as written reports from fifteen convicts and their relatives who complained of repeated cases of violence in Penal Colony No 14 of the Federal Penitentiary Service for Nizhny Novgorod region.
In March 2015 about 25 people were convoyed from Penal Colony No 14 to regional detention facilities where prosecutor’s office staff and Nizhny Novgorod region Federal Penitentiary Service internal security officers were questioning them about what was going on in that institution. However, according to human rights defenders’ knowledge, none of them have been recognized as the affected party up to date. In the beginning of April it became known about initiating criminal proceedings against Deputy Head of Penal Colony No 14 Aleksey Zaitsev. But none of the investigative bodies ever explained which specific fact became the reason for the case opening.
In the course of conversations with the lawyers of the Committee Against Torture the convicts described the system of forcing confessions which was established in the colony. It involves investigated and arrested, placed in the premises functioning in the mode of the detention facility, as well as to people arriving in the colony. For example, one of the convicts told that he was beaten with a wooden stick against his heels, as a result his feet became swollen and he could not walk for a week.
The convicts also said that in every detachment there was a henchman of the colony’s administration, who had informal power over other convicts. According to the convicts these persons routinely apply violence in order to punish any, even most insignificant, misdeeds. Several persons reported two convicts even beaten to death. The punishment also took form of forced monotonous, physically hard, useless work: the convicts, for example, complained that they were forced to tramp the soil, move the tractor’s cart around the territory of the colony, scrape the rainwater downpipe for the whole day.
The Committee Against Torture’s lawyer Dmitry Utukin: «This penal colony has been in sphere of our attention for a long time. One could say that the convicts are trying to achieve their own egoistic purposes and merely making all this up. However, the plots which they describe and the persons whom they indicate do coincide in some miraculous way, despite the fact that the narrators served their sentence in this colony in different times and arrived there from different regions. The Regional Investigative Committee already informed us on transferring the crime report for check to Semenovsky Interdistrict Investigative Department, which causes our concern, since the situation with the colony has been well-known for a long time and local investigators are not paying enough attention to it. Poor efficiency of the prosecutor’s supervision is a cause of another concern. We hope that the regional department will not leave this mass application of citizens unanswered and will assess the actions of its officers in a just way».