The Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court has upheld the decision of judge of the Sovetsky District Court V.E. Bondarenko who acknowledged that the decision of refusal to uphold the complaint of Mr. D.E. Utukin, an expert of the Committee, made by deputy prosecutor of Nizhny Novgorod Region S.D. Belov, was unlawful and ungrounded.
You may remember that expert of the NN CAT Dmitry Utukin represents Mr. Shitov and Mr. Podguskov who applied to the prosecutor’s office alleging ill-treatment by policemen. The prosecution service carried out an inquiry into the allegations. The expert of the Committee who is representing the applicants requested to have a possibility of acquainting with the file of the inquiry carried out by the prosecution service. However, he was refused on the grounds that only advocates could represent applicants in agencies of the prosecution service; those who are not formally advocates could not represent alleged victims.
The RF Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that victims may make use of legal assistance of individuals who are not formally advocates. Yet, the Code does not specify this provision.
After the last refusal of the prosecution service to have a possibility of acquainting with the materials of the inquiry, experts of the Committee filed a complaint to a court which upheld it.
Experts of the NN Committee Against Torture underline the importance of the today’s decision. The court actually acknowledged that citizens that apply to law enforcement agencies reporting about crimes can make use of legal assistance not only of their advocates but also of other persons who are not formally advocates.
In practice it will, in particular, provide greater possibilities of advocacy for the human rights defenders, because it will save time previously spent on disputes with prosecution officials concerning the possibility or impossibility for experts of the Committee to represent applicants in prosecution agencies. And citizens will have the right of choice of their representatives in prosecution and judicial agencies.