Today, the Committee Against Torture turns 21


30 August 2021

30th of August – the day when the Committee Against Torture was established. Today, the human rights association turns 21. The Committee submitted 2902 reports on human rights violations, 154 law-enforcement officers were brought to responsibility, over 248 million roubles of compensations have been awarded to torture victims by the domestic courts and the European Court.

The Committee Against Torture was established on 30 August 2000. Its continuous chairman — human rights defender Igor Kalyapin. The Committee appeared in Nizhny Novgorod, Kalyapin’s native city, and now it operates in six regions — Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnodar, Orenburg regions, Bashkortostan and Northern Caucasus. In addition, the Committee’s members run cases on wide use of violence during the January rallies o 2021 in St.Peterburg and cases of victims of law-enforcement tortures after the riot in Angarskaya Penal Colony No,15 in April 2020.

In January 2015 and January 2016, the organization was included in the register of “foreign agents”. The Committee’s council made a decision on liquidation off the company. As a result, now the Committee is functioning as interregional non-governmental association with no separate legal identity. Today, the Committee Against Torture comprises about 40 members who are dealing with public investigations, legal support of the victims, arranging medical and psychological assistance, rehabilitation and evacuation of the torture victims and their relatives. Olga Sadovskaya, head of International Legal Remedy Section of the Committee, was nominated for a Nobel peace prize in 2018.

When we use the word “torture” we mean illegal use of physical force, degrading and inhumane treatment by a state representative. Certainly, the majority of the torture cases are related to police violence. However, the Committee also dealt with cases related to tortures in hospitals, psychoneurological institutions, even schools and kindergartens.

Some people think that it is only criminals and outcasts who become victims of torture by law enforcement officers. Very often we don’t feel much pity to them, as they saw it coming. There is little sympathy to such people in the general public. They may be the people who really violated the law – now or sometime in the past. However, common citizens often become torture victims: women and children, elderly people, disabled, students, former officers of agencies who suffered from the system which they were part of themselves – all these are real cases of the Committee Against Torture.

The system of violence does not choose gender, age or background. One may become its victim on the way from a shop, during an evening stroll, after a cheerful party with friends.

The members of the Committee Against Torture try to force the investigative authorities to properly investigate the crimes committed by state representatives – police, the Federal Penitentiary Service and other law-enforcement officers. The Committee members developed a judicial method allowing a non-governmental organization performing its own investigation and implementing its results into the official criminal case.

In addition, the Committee deals with legal representation of torture victims in courts, provides or medical and psychological rehabilitation. Another important component of the Committee’s work is public disclosure of torture facts and creating public outcry. It is very important to fight with tolerance to violence and to form a public demand for fighting torture.

Today, on the Committee Against Torture’s Birthday, we ask to support human rightsdefenders, tell about the Committee using your resources, on the pages on social networks, messengers. It is very important that the people know where they can go to. As Andrey Makarevich said jokingly when congratulating the Committee on its Birthday: “I congratulate them and wish them to have less work”.

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