The comment of member of the Public Monitoring Committee, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Kazakov on the initiative of the Federal Penitentiary Service initiative, according to which the public monitors will not be allowed to use their own recording equipment during the visits to departmental facilities:
“Yesterday, mass media distributed information on the intention of the Federal Penitentiary Service to ban the members of the Public Monitoring Committees from using their photo and video equipment during their visits to detention facilities.
I completely agree with the comment from my colleague from the Saint-Petersburg Public Monitoring Committee, Ekaterina Kosarevskaya, with regard to this initiative. Indeed, the new procedure will not contribute to registering the violations. This also involves high probability of the departmental equipment failure at the most critical moment, as well as the probability of refusal to provide the equipment. In addition, the use of departmental equipment involves unrestricted access of the detention facility administration officers to the obtained materials. In essence, the Federal Penitentiary Service suggests to violate the principle of confidentiality, stipulated in the Penitentiary Code, because the convict has a right to communicate with the members of the Public Monitoring Committee in private, if he does not want that the content of this conversation (and, accordingly, the video record of this conversation) becomes known to the penal colony administration officers.
However, I would like to point out to the reason why such initiative of the Federal Penitentiary Service became technically possible. Here we once again come across the illustration of the slogan widely known in our country – “we meant well, but it turned out as usual”.
The use of the photo and video equipment by the Public Monitoring Committee members was not regulated by law. In practice it led to various problems. In some regions such equipment could be used, but serious resistance of the regional Federal Penitentiary Service departments or administrations of specific establishments had to be overcome. As for colleagues from the Public Monitoring Committee could not perform a photo shooting in the Federal Penitentiary Service – they were simply not allowed there with their equipment.
In general, the existing problem and the necessity to provide for direct use of the equipment by the PMC members has been discussed for quite a long time.
At last, in July 2018, the law “On Public Monitoring” # 76-FL was supplemented.
Among other things, the changes involved the use of video and photo equipment by the PMC members. The whole item of the article was dedicated to this issue. And the worm hole of the legislative innovation was immediately evident. The law directly provides that the procedure of the video and photo shooting of the persons kept in detention facilities is performed in the procedure established by the federal executive authority, which supervises the detention facilities”.
It was perfectly clear that the Federal Penitentiary Service will use the opportunity to establish the most convenient for it procedure of the use of video and photo equipment by the PMC members at the jurisdictional detention facilities.
What we observe now is the establishment of such a procedure”.