18 February 2008, Moscow.The Public Verdict Foundation, a Russian human rights fund, was created four years ago, in February 2004. Among the founders there were famous Russian human rights and charitable organizations – Memorial, an international historical, educational, charitable and human rights society, Moscow Helsinki Group, Open Russia, International Democracy Fund (Alexander N. Yakovlev’s fund), The Regions of Russia Foundation.
In 2007 the Foundation continued rendering legal and information support to victims of police abuse. 45 new proceedings were started. Due to the efforts of lawyers working for the Foundation more than 20 unlawful rulings of the Prosecutor’s office were cancelled. Thirty law enforcement agents were charged with abuse of powers and 4 indictees were found guilty.
Last year the Foundation started a new programme. The idea for this project targeted at rendering psychological and social assistance to victims of police abuse arose from the 4-year experience of the organization. Quite often the victims need not only legal support, but also psychological and psychosocial rehabilitation. The first step was to work out rehabilitation techniques specifically for Russia – there was nothing of the kind in the RF earlier. By the end of 2007 dozens of people who had undergone tortures and humiliation got psychosocial assistance.
Quite often lack of initiative and legal illiteracy of the population are an obstacle for human rights activists. That is why the Foundation develops information and PR strategies in order to make the Russians familiar with the successes of their countrymen who managed to restore their rights in court. Cooperation with federal and regional TV channels, radio stations, information agencies, Internet-resources, newspapers and magazines is mutually beneficial: there were more than 20 000 reports on the activity of the Foundation and its regional partners within the last 12 months.
Publishing activities are an important factor for the PR department. On the International Day for the support of Torture Victims the Public Verdict Foundation launched a new book – “Tortures in Russia. Viewpoint of the state, human rights defenders, and the UN Committee Against Torture” – which at the same time was presented to the mass media and public in Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk, Yoshkar-Ola, Krasnodar, Syktyvkar and Novokuznetsk.
In 2007 the Foundation actively cooperated with regional partners in the framework of supporting cases on police abuse. The Foundation has established close links with the Multiregional Committee against Torture, Memorial (Ryazan), South-Siberian Human Rights Centre, Komi Republic human rights commission (Memorial), Osa Human Rights Movement (Hakasia), Man and Law (Mariy-El). The Foundation has an experience of cooperating with Mothers Protecting the Rights of Detainees, Indictees and Convicted (Krasnodar organization), Chita human rights centre, Novosibirsk human rights committee, Krasnoyarsk public human rights committee.
Apart from consulting, the Foundation organizes traineeships and workshops for representatives of regional partner NGOs.
The activity of the Public Verdict Foundation was supported in 2007 by the UN volunteer fund helping torture victims, Open Society Institute, the Kingdom of the Netherlands represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Fund, Russian private donators.
For more details on the operation of the Public Verdict Foundation in 2007 see the web-page.
The Multiregional Committee against Torture sincerely wishes their colleagues from the Foundation a Happy Birthday! We wish our friends and partners strength, energy and luck in their challenging and noble mission – protecting the rights of the RF citizens!