The Public Verdict Foundation offers legal assistance to Russian citizens, who have suffered from unlawful, unapproved actions of law enforcement officials. In 2006 the Foundation was working on more than 100 cases. Most of them were connected with the use of torture in Russian police and teenagers’ abuse, as well as with the facts of inappropriate performance of their duties by the members of the Office of public prosecutor and police while receiving petitions from citizens.
Furthermore among the cases that the Foundation was working on in 2006, the number of ones connected with the violation of rights and interests of human rights activists and groups has increased dramatically. In this connection the Foundation has decided to develop the legal work on such cases into the separate branch of its activity.
Information about the Foundation activity reflects the real law-enforcement practice in Russia. Lawyers and analysts of the Public Verdict Foundation carry out the legal analysis of the whole information corpus, submitted by citizens, regional partners and members of mass media. Analysts’ work allows to define the key issues that cause the abusive practices and to understand what can become an obstacle for rehabilitation of victims.
Thus in 2006 the following analytical materials were prepared (part of these materials is available on the Foundation’s web-page, another part is being prepared for inclusion into more extensive analytical works):
· Analysis of violations of human rights based on cases of mass and gross violations, occurred in some regions of the RF
· Analytical information for the 3rd and 4th round of Russia – EU consultations on human rights
· Analytical information for UN Special Speaker against torture about compliance of the terms of Speaker’s visit with the Russian legislation.
· Analytic texts to be included in the NGO Alternative Report for the UN Committee against torture
· Code of international principles for effective investigation of torture cases
Legal work on cases
During 2006 the Foundation considered (legal and informational support) 60 new cases. 53 cases from the abovementioned total amount were submitted by regional partners: Komi Republic Human Rights Commission Memorial (Komi Republic), Nizhniy Novgorod Committee against torture (Nizhniy Novgorod region), Ryazan Memorial (Ryazan region), South Siberian Human Rights Center (Kemerovo region), Chita Human Rights Center (Chita region).
According to the preliminary examination carried out by Foundation’s partners’ lawyers during 2006 4 criminal cases, on which unlawful resolutions on dismissal of criminal proceeding initiation were pronounced (two of the cases were concerned with unlawful force used by police officers against minors).
By efforts of the Foundation’s and regional partners’ lawyers 10 illegal resolutions given by inspectors of the Office of public prosecutor were reversed. Among them:
· 3 unlawful resolutions of removal of action based on the absence of corpus delicti in law-enforcement officers’ actions;
· 3 unlawful resolutions of removal of action against suspects given by the inspector of the Office of public prosecutor. So, in resolution on Matyushin’s case received from Ryazan Memorial, there were gross violations of procedural law that in fact disabled the victim’s right for rehabilitation. The Foundation legal department’s experts together with Ryazan Memorial’s specialists for public investigations drew up the complaint that resulted in disaffirmation of the resolution and final lawful adjudication giving Matyushin right for rehabilitation;
· 4 unlawful resolutions of prejudicial inquiry abeyance based on the fact that the person to be accused can not be defined.
6 from 10 cancelled resolutions were reversed by the prosecutor of higher echelon and another 4 were cancelled judicially. It is important that nullifying the resolution of Yoshkar-Ola Office of public prosecutor on dismissal of criminal proceeding initiation in Svistunov’s case (the case was investigated by the Foundation and Yoshkar-Ola organization “Man and Law”, Republic of Mari El,
) the court – for the very first time – declared the violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms committed by law-enforcement officers. There is no doubt that this is a precedent case in Russian court practice, because Russian court referred to the Convention as a source of law.
Judgment pronounced by the penal of judges for criminal cases of Smolensk Regional Court (Baturina’s case) was declared unlawful and nullified. In 2004 Irina Baturina was convicted for growing narcotic plants (point B, part 2, article 231 of the Criminal Code of the RF) after State Drugs Control officers had found self-seed oil-yielding poppy at her garden-plot in Botaly village (Urganskiy district, Smolensk region). Irina Baturina being the candidate of biological science, stated that oil-yielding poppy is a wide spread undesirable plant, which should not be identified with opium poppy http://www.regnum.ru/news/719684.html?forprint
30 law-enforcement officers were charged with official malfeasance (article 285 of the Criminal Code of the RF – abuse of official duties, article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF – exceeding official commissions) as a result of the cases executed by the Foundation in 2006.
· 11 from the abovementioned total number of officers were convicted,
· Verdicts of 9 convicts came into force,
· Concerning the other two law-enforcement officers (a FSB Colonel and an officer of extra departmental guard unit), their verdicts didn’t come into force as convicts and their representatives have lodged appeals, which will be considered in 2007.
11 abovementioned convicted law-enforcement offices got the following punishment:
· Four officers were sentenced to imprisonment in common goal,
· Two officers were imposed with fine (6000 and 5000 RuR),
· One officer was sentenced to 6-year imprisonment in penal settlement,
· Other four got the suspended sentences.
19 more law-enforcement officials were charged with abuse of their official duties. These cases are now at the stage of prejudicial and judicial inquiry.
Also, the joint efforts of the Foundation’s legal department and Komi Republic Human Rights Commission Memorial let achieve the conviction of the specialist of Criminal investigation office (resigned police officer). Contrary to law, police-office leadership imposed disclosing and investigation of the cases referring to the criminal police department and public security department, as well as participation in investigative actions on this man. For the abovementioned infringements the head of police-office received a reprimand and was prescribed to eliminate the faults in the shortest possible time.
At the support of the Foundation, some other human rights groups and journalists verdict of not guilty http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/news/6180506.html
for the head of human rights organization “Romashka” acting on the territory of Dagestan Republic, O. Boliev, who was accused of the crime provided by the article 222, part 1 of the Criminal Code of the RF, as well as the cancellation of the magistrate’s resolution of administrative arrestment. (
). At the moment active work on bringing the appointed officials responsible for Boliev’s rights violation to account. There are strong reasons to consider unlawful accusation of O. Boliev was connected with his professional activity aimed at defense of rights of citizens who have suffered from the abusive actions of law-enforcement.
Within 2006 16 law suits based on the cases executed by the Foundation, amounting to 4,655,875 Russian Roubles were filed:
· 8 of them totally amounting to 2,903,775 Russian Roubles were brought into court
· law suits to the amount of 768,200 Russian Roubles were secured
The Foundation tries to react promptly to cases of human rights violations. The work of the joint mobile group in the town of Nizhneye Makopse (Lazarev district of the city of Sochi, Krasnodarskiy region) can be considered as a significant example of such prompt reaction.
On the night of 19 July
in Lazarevskiy district of Sochi the group of riot squad officers being on duty assaulted several citizens on the territory of children camp “Druzhba” http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/cases/druzhba.html
. The action concerning abuse of authority committed by riot squad officers was brought before court. http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/news/11010207.html
Eight riot squad members were charged with abuse of authority with use of violence and special means (part 3 of article 286 of Criminal Code of the RF). For seven of eight officers accused custody was chosen as a preventive punishment. There are 29 victims, three of them are minors.
During the next several days after the incident with the assistance of the Public Verdict Foundation the joint mobile group consisting of representatives of Nizhniy Novgorod Committee against torture (general management), Krasnodar Organization “Mothers in Defense of the Rights of Those Arrested, Under Investigation and Convicted”, Yoshkar-Ola organization “Man and Law” was formed.
The group arrived to the place of incident. During 10 days the group identified 23 victims of riot squad members’ unlawful actions. Lawyers of the joint mobile group submitted to the Office of public prosecutor 129 pages of materials (victims’ detailed statements, medical documentation, applications and petitions), which were included into case papers.
In the beginning of August
human rights activists accomplished the investigation of “Sochi case”. (http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/library/3260706.html
). At the moment the matter is brought into court. Lawyers of the Public Verdict Foundation and Committee against torture proceed with legal support, which include estimation of investigation effectiveness. It is important that the work on the case is carried out in cooperation with the Office of public prosecutor of Krasnodar region.
The most significant cases, on which the Foundation and its regional partners were working in 2006
Legal work of human rights activists becomes more effective if it get citizens’ support. In order to increase civil activity it is necessary to inform the society about the results of human rights activists’ professional activity and about opportunities for rights defense provided by law.
The Foundation activity concerned with the informational support and attraction of public attention
The Foundation pays great attention to information and offers its support to the journalists dealing with the abuse from the direction of law-enforcement. Thanks to the Public Verdict Foundation’s PR department in 2006 federal and regional mass-media gave information about the Foundation’s and its regional partners’ activity aimed at human rights defense more than 2000 times. (for more detailed statistics s. below).
The Foundation uses traditional and acknowledged techniques of public interaction and PR-tools. First of all it includes conferencing, as well as preparation and circulation of press-releases, which inform in the most comprehensible and unprejudiced form of rehabilitation processes and restoration of rights abused by law-enforcement.
On the 17th of January
the Foundation and other social organizations conducted the joint press-conference
“For the first time in Russia human rights activist and journalist is accused for distribution of independent information about the situation in Chechnya Republic” (Stanislav Dmitriyevskiy’s case).
On the 30th of January
in Journalists’ Central House there took place a press-conference on the issue “Resolution of the European Court on Alexey Mikheev’s case” organized by the Foundation’s experts http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/news/4300106.html
. A. Mikheev, disabled after tortures in Nizhniy Novgorod police, Olga Shepeleva, lawyer of the DEMOS Center and representative of the victim in the European Court, Igor Kalyapin, the head of Nizhniy Novgorod Committee Against Torture, Natalia Taubina, Director of the Foundation took part in the event. The press-conference was attended by reporters of the leading Russian and foreign mass-media.
Authors managed to present a sociological and human rights oriented point of view on problems of modern law-enforcement activity in the coherent and condensed form.
The book is based on the results of sociological researches carried out by the experts of Yury Levada’s Analytical Center. Sociologists have analyzed the estimation dynamics of public opinion about modern police and diagnosticated social causes of abusive practices preservation.
Sociological analysis of law-enforcement abuse problem is supported by the comments of human rights activists aware of abusive practices from their everyday work with victims. Human rights experts’ comment help to understand the state of public opinion reflected in survey results.
On the 8th of December in Journalists’ Central House the Foundation organized a press-conference dedicated to the issue of recommendations adopted by the UN Committee Against Torture. The recommendations were adopted basing on the Fourth Russian Report on observance with the Convention against torture. During elaboration of the recommendations the information contained in the Alternative Report of Russian NGOs was taken into account. The Alternative Report was presented in November of 2006 at the 37th session of the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva. At the press-conference human rights activists drew public attention to the Committee’s most significant recommendations, specially noting those, which execution must be reported to the Committee during the next year.
Statistics of the Foundation materials publications in mass-media in 2006
With references to the Foundation
Without references to the Foundation
Publications classification in respect to mass-media location
Classification of publications initiated by the Foundation in respect to the Foundation’s mentioning
Classification of publications according to the mass-media type
In comparison with 2005 there are some substantial improvements in interaction with mass-media. There are more publications in periodicals and radio announcements informing the society of the Foundation activity and ones with its mentioning. Articles in periodicals became more profound, besides the information itself they contain serious analytical part.
In 2006 the number of state mass-media, which have steady contact with the Foundation and refer to its experts for the unique up to date information increased. The cooperation with the regional agencies of the Russian television company (VGTRK), informational agencies such as ITAR TASS, RIA NEWS and with VGTRK internet portal Strana.RU was established.
Cases are submitted to the Foundation, victims succeed in restoring their violated rights. Yet the problem of unlawful actions of law-enforcement officials is still pressing in Russia nowadays. In order to get the expression of its range, the Foundation in cooperation with prominent sociological institutions initiates and realizes special research projects.
Subject and content of work to be done within research projects can be defined by choosing the most problematic spheres, basing on analysis of the information of law violations from the direction of law-enforcement authorities submitted to the Public Verdict Foundation. Later on the Foundation uses research results for analytical evaluation of abusive practices spread and drawing the public attention to the problem.
the Public Verdict Foundation and Yury Levada’s Analytical Center carried out 4 sociological researches “Index of law-enforcement arbitrariness”
. The research object was to measure the level of citizens’ trust toward law-enforcement bodies (police, Office of public prosecutor) and judicial system. Sociologists determined the index of law-enforcement arbitrariness – generalized index of public opinion state dynamics reflecting the feeling of unsafe caused by abusive, unapproved actions of police, Office of public prosecutor and judicial bodies. The results of this research were distributed among mass-media.
of 2006 the Foundation presented the results of the profile sociological research “Police officers’ point of view on problems in police: law-enforcement abuse, interaction with public” .
The research was carried out by the Public Verdict Foundation together with Yury Levada’s Analytical Center. Field study and analytical part of the research were made by Levada-Center in the end of 2005.
In order to get the complete view of the public opinion, it is essential to study opinions of different social groups. Thus to study the opinion of youth – one of the most mobile social groups in Russian society – in the end of the year the Foundation in cooperation with Yury Levada’s Analytical Center worked out and conducted the survey “Youth and law-enforcement authorities – problem of trust”. The survey results were presented to the public and mass-media in the beginning of 2007. 1200 people of the age between 15 and 24 took part in the survey.
During 2006 the Public Verdict Foundation was carrying out educational activity. Conferences, practical seminars, expert discussions and round tables were conducted within in.
On the 7th of March an expert meeting dedicated to the elaboration of recommendations based on the European Court’s resolution on the case “Mikheev vs. the RF” was conducted at the Foundation's office. Prominent Russian lawyers and human rights activists that took part in the meeting suggested some measures allowing to change law-enforcement abusive practices.
On 26-28 May the Foundation conducted a seminar “Characteristics of the legal work on cases of human rights violations committed by law-enforcement bodies”. Representatives of seven human rights groups dealing with defense of rights and interests of citizens, who had suffered from law-enforcement abuse, took part in the seminar.
The leading lawyers, jurists and specialists in the field of judicial system, conducted lections and practical studies. The first day of the seminar was dedicated to the principles and practice of public investigations and was conducted by the experts of Nizhniy Novgorod Committee Against Torture. The specifics of the Office of public prosecutor work on the cases of human rights violation became the main topic of the second day of the seminar conducted by the Foundation’s experts. On the same day the expert of the DEMOS Research Center Olga Shepeleva told the participants about international mechanisms for human rights defense and specifics of the European Court practice. The lection on the third day of the seminar was conducted by ex-judge Moscow court, PhD in law Olga Kudeshkina. The report and discussion that followed touched upon wide range of questions including ones connected with accusatory tendency in judicial practice and tactics of defense in cases of violation of human rights from the direction of law-enforcement authorities.
On the 27th of May the round table “Cases on torture in European Court: lawyer’s strategy and tactics” took place. DEMOS Center, Public Verdict Foundation and Project «Legal Initiative in Russia» arranged the round table. Participants discussed different specific aspects of lawyer’s work on cases on tortures in European Court. The questions concerning interaction oа the lawyer and declarent (plaintiff) were thoroughly examined. Special attention was focused on proceedings, methods of compensatory damage calculation, as well as outlook for execution of European Court’s decisions.
On the 30th of June
at the Foundation there was a meeting of the experts participating in preparation of the NGOs’ Alternative report to the UN Committee against torture. During the meeting the texts ready to be included in the report were discussed and the plan of report revision was elaborated. The participants of the meeting worked out recommendations for inclusion into the final version of the Alternative report http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/research/81211106.html
On the 3rd of July the Foundation in cooperation with the DEMOS Center and Social Partnership Foundation conducted the international round table “ Civilian control over law enforcement bodies and penal system”. The event was carried out in the bounds of NGO Forum “Civil Eight 2006”.
Prominent human rights experts, human rights activists, representatives of organizations overseeing law-enforcement bodies’ activity from Bulgaria, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, USA, Switzerland took part in this event. The round table passed recommendations for the countries – members of Big Eight and international community aimed at increase of effectiveness of civilian control over law-enforcement authorities and penal system http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/police/13040706.html
On the 5th of July
in Moscow took place the conference “Human rights in Russia in the year of its presidency in Big Eight and CE”
. The Foundation took part in conference preparation, served on its organizing committee. Conference was focused on crisis in the sphere of human rights in Russia in the context of Big Eight summit in July 2006. The conference’s aim was to discuss the main manifestations of human rights crisis in Russia in the year of its presidency in Big Eight and CE, develop recommendations aimed at situation improvement and pass the address to participants of Big Eight summit in St.-Petersburg urging not to ignore these problems and not to legitimate the turn to authoritarianism and elimination of supremacy of law in the country with their silence. It is significant that human rights activists did not call upon to expel Russia from international organizations or isolate the country, but insisted on fact that Big Eight summit and presidency in CE should be affectively used in order to support Russia’s return to democracy and restoration of supremacy of law. http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/international_instances/6060706.html
On 7-9 July the Foundation conducted a seminar “Informational and PR constituent of human rights organization”. The seminar was attended by organizations, working on defense of rights and interests of citizens, who have suffered from unlawful actions of law-enforcement officers.
Lections and practical studies were conducted by the leading PR and informational technologies specialists, journalists, jurists dealing with mass-media, experts of the Foundation.
On 13-14 October the Foundation conducted a seminar “Legal and informational aspects of non-profit organizations’ activity”. Lawyers and PR-specialists of partner human rights groups participated in the seminar.
During the seminar the following questions were examined:
· Tactics in court while attending the court sessions as a representative of the victim.
· Principles and order of preparation of complaints to the Office of public prosecutor by the example of cases processed by regional partners.
· Strategic communications. PR specifics of human rights activity.
Development and support of regional partner organization is an important part of the Foundation’s work.
In 2006 the Foundation rendered financial aid to 7 regional organizations - Nizhniy Novgorod Committee against Torture, Chita Human Rights Center, Yoshkar-Ola organization “Man and Law”, Cheboksary organization “Shield and Sword”, Kazan Human Rights Center, Komi Human Rights Commission Memorial and South Siberian Human Rights Center. Within the provided financing all the organizations investigated cases of violations of human rights committed by law-enforcement authorities.
In 2006 8 representatives of the following regional partner organizations worked as trainees in the Foundation:
· Komi Republic Human Rights Commission Memorial (Syktyvkar);
· South Siberian Human Rights Center (two specialists from Novokuznetsk office and one from Kemerovo office);
· Nizhniy Novgorod Committee against Torture (Nizhniy Novgorod);
· Initiative (Izhevsk);
· Yoshkar-Ola organization “Man and Law” (Yoshkar-Ola);
· Chita Human Rights Center (Chita).
Within their trainership representatives of the partner organizations could practice different methods and mechanisms of victims’ rights defense, principals of analytical work on cases (trainership in legal department of the Foundation), as well as basics of information processing, negotiating with press, studying of technologies required for work with databases (trainership in the Foundation’s PR department).
Cooperation with international human rights groups and application of international mechanisms of human rights defense at the domestic level is another separate line of the Public Verdict Foundation activity.
Twice In 2006 (in Moscow at the beginning of the year and in Geneva in November) the Foundation took part in meetings with the UN High Commissioner for human rights Louise Arbour, analytical materials were presented to the High Commissioner. Furthermore the Foundation members met the representatives of the UN High Commissioner for human rights in order to discuss the plans to establish the representative office of High Commissioner in Russia and to develop guidelines for the future activity of the office.
In Spring of 2006, the Foundation took part in the Russian NGOs meeting with representatives of EU and Embassies of Austria (presided in EU in the first half of 2006) and Finland (next country presiding in EU) dedicated to the human rights problems, and then in the meeting with EU representatives in the framework of the third round of Russia – EU consultations on human rights. In autumn there were similar negotiations with representatives of EU and Finland (presided in EU in the second half of 2006) and Germany (next country presiding in EU) in the bounds of preparation for the forth round of consultations. The Foundation had prepared analytical materials on human rights problems in the RF for these events.
In June of 2006, on the threshold of Big Eight summit in St-Petersburg among the delegation of Russian human rights groups the Foundation’s representative took part in trip to Paris undertaken in order to draw attention to the problem of human rights violations in Russia. Within this trip there were meetings with representatives of the Ministry of foreign affairs, Government, press and public organizations of France.
the Foundation together with the DEMOS Research Center coordinated the preparation of the Alternative NGOs’ report for the UN Committee against torture. The following organizations took part in the report preparation: Public Verdict Foundation, DEMOS Research Center, Civic Assistance Committee, Memorial Human Rights Center, “Social Partnership Foundation”, Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees of Russia, Nizhniy Novgorod Committee against Torture, Krasnoyarsk Public Committee for Human Rights Protection, Perm regional human rights defender center, Yoshkar-Ola organization “Man and Law”, Kazan Human Rights Center, Memorial Human Rights Commission of Komi Republic, Mordovian Republican Human Rights Center, Public Problems Research Institute «United Europe», Tver Memorial Society, Krasnodar Organization “Mothers in Defense of the Rights of Those Arrested, Under Investigation and Convicted”, Association of human rights organizations of Sverdlovsk region and other human rights groups of the country. The report was presented in November 2006 within the 37th
session of the UN Committee against torture. The text of this report is available on the Foundation’s web-site: http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/research/81211106.html
- in Russian, http://www.publicverdict.org/eng/articles/library/16291106.html
- in English).
The Alternative report’ aim is to attract UN Committee experts’ attention to the most topical questions in this sphere that were not reflected in the official report of the Russian Federation, as well as to make the Committee’s experts’ opinion about problems in this sphere clear and impartial. Among the principal problems unsolved there are ones of impunity, conflict of Prosecutor Office functions that impede the effective investigation of torture cases, lack of indemnity system for victims of cruel and inhuman treatment.
In the end of 2006 in the frameworks of publishing programs the Foundation prepared for the publication the book “Tortures in Russia. Positions of authorities, human rights activists and UN Committee against torture”. The book is based on the materials of the Alternative report of Russian NGOs, presenting the results of monitoring of UN Convention against torture observance by the RF. General coordination of the work on the report preparation was conducted by the Public Verdict Foundation.
In November of 2006 the representative of the Foundation within the delegation of Russian and international NGOs took part in meetings with representatives of several special UN committees. There were meetings with UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
Foundation “Public Verdict” was founded in February 2006 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization, offering legal assistance in the sphere of human rights defense to Russian citizens, who have suffered from illegitimate actions of law-enforcement officials.
Among the Foundation’s constitutors there are prominent Russian human rights groups and charitable organizations such as the «Memorial» International Society for Human Rights, History and Education; the Moscow Helsinki Group; the Open Russia; the Democracy Foundation (the Alexander N. Yakovlev Foundation); and the Russian Regions Foundation
The Foundation’s aim is to create the climate of intolerance towards violations of human rights committed by law-enforcement bodies. The Foundation strives for introduction of the effective system of public oversight of their activity. The Foundation informs the society about all established facts of violations of human rights.
· Transparency is the main principal of the Public Verdict Foundation.
· The Foundation provides citizens and organizations with legal and informational assistance in rehabilitation of their rights violated by the law enforcement bodies.
· The Foundation assists law enforcement bodies in preventing and suppressing violations of human rights and liberties.
· An important part of the Foundation’s activity is to support and develop of regional partner human rights groups.
· The Foundation carries out the educational and analytical work, engages competent sociological institutions in carrying-out of profile researches.
· The Foundation develops recommendations on improvement of the law-enforcement system of the RF, arranges discussions with participation of representatives of state authorities and NGOs.
· The Foundation conducts public and media campaigns in order to attract citizens’ attention to the problem of law enforcement misdoings and to distribute information about positive human rights vindication experience.
· The Foundation promotes the international human rights standards in Russia, as well as the effective use of international human rights defense mechanisms at the domestic level.
Our work in different periods of time was supported by:
Open Society Institute,
John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation,