Activity of the Public Verdict Foundation in 2007
April 14, 2008 15:56
During 2007 the Public Verdict Foundation continued to offer legal and information assistance to the victims of violations of human rights by the law enforcement machinery. Such activities as analytical work and preparation of reviews, reports and recommendations and their subsequent submission to relevant Russian and international bodies, carrying out of sociological researches, arranging and holding educational events for partner NGOs from different regions of the country, information and PR-activities. Last year the Foundation launched a new program offering psychological and psychosocial assistance to the victims of arbitrary actions of law enforcement bodies.
The Foundation’s activities described below are closely interconnected and their comprehensive fulfilment contributes to the eradication of the ill practice of the human rights abuse by Russian law enforcement officers and strengthening and professional growth of regional human rights organisations in their fight against human rights violations by the law enforcement machinery.
The main task of the Foundation in 2007 remained to provide assistance to the citizens affected by unlawful actions of law enforcement officers, restoration of their entrenched rights specified by the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (hereinafter ECHR).
During 2007 as in preceding years the legal department of the Public Verdict Foundation tackled citizens’ petitions received by ordinary and electronic mail. The Foundation received 116 petitions from different Russian regions in 2007. As a result of studying these petitions the following decisions were taken:
- For 31 cases – additional documents were requested, without which a decision on presence or absence of the human rights (as specified by the ECHR) violation by law enforcement officers can not be taken;
- In 32 cases – consultations were given both in verbal and written form;
- In 32 cases – the decision to deny assistance was taken since the offences committed by the law enforcement officers lay beyond the competence of the Foundation’s activities and in general concerned proofs of guilt;
- 11 cases were taken over by the Foundation, active work on them is currently going on.
In 2007 the foundation took over 45 new dossiers. 18 of the abovementioned were submitted by regional partners: Chita Human Rights Centre, Nizhny Novgorod Committee against tortures, Ryazan Memorial, South Siberian Human Rights Centre, Memorial Komi Human Rights Commission.
By efforts of the Foundation’s and external lawyers more than 20 unlawful decisions taken by Public Prosecution Office inspectors were reversed. Among them:
13 unlawful resolutions on suspension of investigation by virtue of the impossibility of identifying the person to be brought to responsibility (art. 208, part 1, paragraph 1 of the Code of criminal procedure of the Russian federation (UPK RF).
For example Moscow Simonovskaya interdistrict prosecution office 8 times decided to suspend the proceedings under the article 208, part 1, paragraph 1 of the criminal Code of the RF (the case of Bakanova). These resolutions were reversed by the deputy prosecutor as groundless and premature. The Foundation asked General Prosecution Office to check the legal basis of the officers of the Simonovskaya interdistrict prosecution office. As a result this criminal case was taken under the control of the General Prosecution Office. However, the situation remained the same, an effective investigation was not being conducted. Only after the transfer of the case to the Moscow Nagatinskaya prosecution office the investigation was resumed, in the near future the charge will be brought to the accused and the dossier with the indictment will be sent to the court.
2 unlawful resolutions given by Public Prosecution Office inspectors on dismissal of criminal cases on the grounds of absence of the corpus delicti.
For example on the 3rd May 2007 Moscow Preobrazhensky district court found unlawful and groundless the resolution given by the inspector of Moscow Meshchanskaya interdistrict prosecution office not to initiate a criminal case on unlawful commitment of Batalin V.I. to a residential psychiatric facility and compelled the prosecutor of Meshchanskaya interdistrict prosecution office to rectify breaches. On the 12th October 2007 the inspector of the Meshchansky district investigation department (SO) of the investigation bureau (SU) of Investigation Committee (SK) attached to the Prosecution Office of the RF initiated a criminal case in accordance with the article 128, part 2 of the Criminal Code of the RF. It is worth noting that initiation of criminal cases of this type is linked to many difficulties: the prosecution office officers try to dismiss a criminal proceeding initiation on such cases by all means, including illegal ones. It can be connected with insufficient practice on such cases and difficulty of their investigation.
5 unlawful resolutions on removal of action based on absence of the corpus delicti.
As a result of the cases executed by the Foundation (taken over in 2007 and before) 30 law enforcement officers were charged with official malfeasance (article 285, 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF). Among them 14 were found guilty (8 verdicts came into force, the other 6 have not yet inured due to the appeals for reversal of the judgement that are still under consideration). All convicted law enforcement officers were sentenced to imprisonment the whole term of which they have to spend at the standard regime penal colony.
Other 16 law enforcement officers were charged with official malfeasance. The cases are at the prejudicial and judicial inquiry stage.
It should be said that 3 of the abovementioned 16 law enforcement officers were discharged at Kaluzhsky district court of Kaluga oblast on 29 December 2006 “due to failure of evidence for their implication in the crime specified by paragraph “a”, part 2, article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF” (victim party – the Zakharovs). Thanks to the attorney provided by the Foundation for a hearing of the cassation of this decision was reversed by the criminal judicial board of the Kaluzhsky oblast court on the 23 March 2007 and sent for a new trial at the same court in a new composition. Now this case is being examined at the court of first resort.
During 2007 within the cases executed by the Foundation 8 suits were brought to court claiming a total amount of 2,528,766 roubles. All suites were examined. The total sum of 264,474 roubles was paid out, with only 2 demands of the relief being fully met. Hence the amount of other 6 cases that was not paid out totals to 2,264,292 roubles.
The decision taken at Novokuznetsk Ordzhonikidzevsky district court on the claim of Osadchaya is worth looking at. The calculation of the amount demanded for the moral damage was based on the verdict passed by the European Court of Human Rights on the case “Ribic vs. Austria”, circumstances of which are similar to those of the case of Osadchaya. Examining the amount claimed by Osadchaya as exemplary the court admitted it as fair and reasonable.
The most successful cases in 2007 (in many respects thanks to consultative assistance of the Public Verdict Foundation) are case of Chebodayev, case of Batalin, case of Bakanova. The description of the cases of Chebodayev and Batalin as well as information on others cases can be found on the site of the Foundation (www.publicverdict.org) under the heading “Cases”.
The Foundation pays due attention to analytical work that is an integral part of its activities.
So in March 2007 the Foundation prepared and addressed to the Prosecutor General of the RF Chaika Yu.Ya. a comprehensive analysis of the violations of the decrees and orders of the RF General Prosecution Office (http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/library/4210307.html), that are committed by officers of prosecution offices during investigation of criminal cases and examination of citizen’s plaints. The document presented information oncases executed bythe Foundation. The cases are widely spread across the country: from Chita and its oblast to Novokuznetsk (South Siberian administrative district), to Republic of Komi, to republic of Mariy El, to Moscow.
One can judge about the efficiency of the analytical work and its results by the outcome of the examination of the abovementioned appeal.
Among other information the paper described the offences committed by the officials of the prosecution offices in the course of two criminal cases taken over by the Foundation (case of Noskov and case of Bakanova). It is worth noting that both criminal cases were initiated in accordance with the article 286 of the criminal code of the RF (exceeding official commissions) and both against the same people.
On the 7th May 2004 Nagatinskaya interdistrict prosecution office initiated against unidentified policemen a criminal case on infliction of bodily injury to Noskov on the 21st March 2004 in accordance to the article 286, part 3, paragraph “a” of the Criminal Code of the RF. The suspects in the case were Bolkunova E.V., Pukhov K.S., Popov Yu. A., officers of the fourth department of the operational-investigation unit (ORCh) of the Criminal Police (KM) attached to the Department of the crime detection (OUR) of the Directorate of internal affaires (UVD) of the South Administrative District (YuAO) of Moscow. The suspects and the victims were confronted and on the 1 April 2005 the prejudicial inquiry was suspended on the basis of the article 208, part 1, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the RF.
Noskov turned to the Public Verdict Foundation in August 2004 seeking legal assistance.
On the 8 February 2005 the prosecution office of the South Administrative District of Moscow brought a criminal suit against unidentified policemen under the article 286, part 1 of the Criminal Code of the RF.
In the course of the prejudicial inquiry it was found out that on the 15 October 2004 the Patrol-guard service of the police (PPSM) detained Idrisov, Depelyan, Kadumaurov, Siharulidze, stealing the property of Bakanova. Officers of the 4th ORCh attached to OUR of the KM of the UVD of the YuAO of Moscow Bolkunova, Yegorov, Pukhov and Sorokin came to the field. The detained were brought to the Department of internal affairs “Nagatinsky zaton”. There the policemen inquired the detained in turns. After conversation Bolkunova under the excuse of delivering the detained to the KM of the UVD of the YuAO of Moscow set them flee.
On the 8 November 2005 Bolkunova was charged with exceeding of the official commissions under the article 286, part 1 of the Criminal Code of the RF.
Bolkunova I.V. was allowed to read the materials of the criminal case initiated against her in accordance to the requirement of the article 217 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the RF.
Nevertheless, on the 11 August 2006 the case against Bolkunova I.V. was closed under the article 24, part 1, paragraph 2 of the Criminal procedure Code of the RF and on the 13 August 2006 the prejudicial inquiry was terminated on the basis of the article 208, part 1, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the RF.
Repeated lodging of complaints on the resolution did not change the situation.
Bakanova decided to take resort to Foundation in 2006.
Both petitions of Noskov and Bakanova addressed to the Foundation were the result of reluctance of the officials of the prosecution offices handling the cases to provide comprehensive and qualitative investigation, that would determine and bring due people to their responsibilities. On the basis of the submitted documents it was obvious that there were numerous violations of the current legislation that led to the violation of the rights of Noskov and Bakanova as guaranteed by the Constitution of the RF and ECHR.
After the appeal of the Public Verdict Foundation to the General Prosecution Office, the resolutions about the termination of the abovementioned criminal cases were set aside. In two weeks time the officers that inflicted bodily injures to Noskov were found and in 1,5 months the prejudicial inquiry was finished and the case was sent to the court. Now the judicial inquiry on the case is in progress.
The criminal case initiated after Bakanova’s claim was also resumed, now the prejudicial inquiry is on the final stage and the dossier is going to be sent to the prosecution office for confirmation of the resolution of conviction and its subsequent sending to the court.
In March 2007 we updated the reference work on pressure put on the civic organisations. It was presented at the conference of OSCE on the freedom for associations.
The Foundation became a co-founder of the Agreement on collaboration in the field of protection of the freedom for associations and freedom of work for non-governmental non-profit organisations in the Russian Federation. Today this Agreement unites more than 15 organisations. The first major result of the Agreement was the report “First year of the application of the Russian legislation on non-profit organisations: problems and recommendations on adjustments” (http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/library/29200407.html). The Foundation is a co-author of the document. The report was presented during special hearings on application of the new Russian law on NPOs held at the Council of Europe in the end of April 2007.
In March 2007 the foundation participated in the preparation of the report of the Centre of the development of democracy and human rights on the fulfilment of the right to associate “Freedom for associations in Russia: legislation and application practice”
In June 2007 the Foundation drew an analytical paper about the Investigative committee attached to the RF Prosecution Office (http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/library/sled_komitet.html). The Federal law № 87-FZ “On amendments of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation and the Federal law “About the Prosecutor of the Russian Federation” signed by the President of the RF V.V.Putin on the 5 June 2007 which stipulated the creation of the Investigative Committee attached to the RF Prosecutor’s Office in order to execute federal legislation on criminal trial within its competence, constituted a basis for such a research.
The paper quotes opinions of a number of state officials on the adopted law, discusses questions raised by the lawyers of the Foundation after examination of the Law. Besides, the appendix to the paper provides a comparative table of changes in the Criminal procedure Code of the RF and the federal law “About the prosecutor of the RF”. This table illustrates starkly the changes and enables one to assess them.
The abovementioned analytical work is first of all designed for citizens who lack special legal education and could be lost in novelties in the legislation. The Foundation assumed that this category is the least protected in legal terms as on average the legal culture of the population across the country is rather low. Having fallen victims of the violations of the rights by the law enforcement officers citizens just do not know where to go and begin to write claims and petitions to all authorities, receiving replies that these bodies do not have competence to handle such cases. It takes a lot of physical and moral efforts, and consumes time that sometimes results in the loss of important evidence.
It should be mentioned that this analytical work was rated first in the list of the most popular materials on the web-site of the Foundation, which again shows its high importance and relevance.
In September and October 2007 we wrote a reference material about models of interference of the law enforcement machinery into the life of civil society “Law enforcement bodies vs. civil society”. To draw such a paper we have studied a number of cases of suppression of the civic activity, including by the means of law enforcement machinery: the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service and Prosecution Office. Their forces and means under different excuses are systematically used for creation obstacles for different NPOs, media and certain citizens. Doing this law enforcement bodies use several practiced and effective models of interference into the life of civil society. The paper presents these models of interference (the text is available on the web-site of the Foundation - http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/research/8041007.html in Russian and http://www.publicverdict.org/eng/articles/found/9041007.html in English). This reference material was presented at the meeting with Russian NGOs within the framework of Russia-EU consultations on human rights (November 2007).
The Foundation continued coordination of the preparing of joint reports of Russian NGOs submitted to the UN Committee against torture. In October-November 2007 Russian NGOs drew a report on compliance by the Russian Federation of the recommendations adopted by the Committee after the examination of the fourth periodical report of the RF at the 37th session in November 2007. The document was prepared by 3 organisations: the Civic Assistance Committee (on the recommendations of the Committee on written guarantees in the context of refoulement of refugees), the Union of Committees of soldiers’ mothers of Russia (on recommendations about humiliating treatment and bullying in the army), and the Public Verdict Foundation (on recommendations of the committee on the reform of the prosecution office and assaults on human rights activists). The report was submitted to the Committee in the beginning of November 2007 (text is available on the web-site of the Foundation - http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/library/5101207.html in Russian and http://www.publicverdict.org/eng/articles/police/1111207.html in English). However, at the November session the Committee did not study the question of exercising its recommendations by Russia in the framework of the follow-up procedure as the information submitted by the RF was still being processed, translated and given the status of the UN document. It is expected that the follow-up procedure will be applied to Russia at the spring session of the Committee in 2008.
In December 2007 the Foundation finished the handbook “Legal standards of investigation of reported tortures in Russian and international law”that encompasses a set of principles of efficient investigation specified by Russian and international legislation. The handbook is primarily aimed at the officers of the prosecution office and investigative departments of the Investigative Committee attached to the General Prosecution Office. It is worth saying that Russian laws set only general requirements. Given the fact that our legal system still lacks statutory acts specifying investigation of tortures international norms acquire additional importance. We suppose that the principles specified in these documents can be without particular difficulties integrated into Russian practice that will without any doubt contribute to the protection of the Russian citizens against unlawful usage of force. The presented comparative analysis of Russian and international norms helps to assess the potential of incorporation of international principles in this field into Russian practice. This handbook is now being annotated at the Apparatus of Human Rights Commissioner in the RF. We intend to publish this handbook along with the review of the Human Rights Commissioner and to organise a number of meetings with the representatives of regional prosecution offices and investigative departments of the Investigative Committee attached to the General Prosecution Office, colleagues of the General Prosecution Office and the Investigative Committee in order to discuss the perspectives of adoption of the normative acts regulating investigation of tortures and collaboration of these structures with the aim of raising the effectiveness of the investigation.
In October 2007 the Foundation prepared the review “Practice of investigation and judicial decisions on cases concerning tortures and cruel treatment: analysis of the cases executed by Russian human rights organisations”. In this review we analysethe practice of investigatingreports about tortures and cruel and humiliating treatment by the prosecution office before the Federal Law № 87-FZ ““On amendments of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation and the Federal law “About the Prosecutor of the Russian Federation” came into force. Several months have passed from the creation of the Investigative Committee; therefore the changes were not discussed by the prepared analysis. The review comprises the cases which were in execution and on which judgements were delivered from 2004 till 2007. The analysis showed that violation by prosecution offices both of international standards of effective investigation and Russian normative acts is widely spread. The review also includes a thorough analysis of the time of investigation of the cases, injury severity level, severity of the punishment, aims of the crimes, crime sites and tools used in the crime. The review was prepared for the plenary session of the Public chamber on effectiveness of law enforcement bodies. The text of the review is available at the web-site of the Foundation - http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/research/300108.html.
Legal efforts alone fail to be a sufficient condition to enable citizens to defend their rights independently, to surpass the passivity of the population, and as a result to decrease the scale of arbitrariness of Russian law enforcement officials. It is necessary to develop information and PR activities, to let people know about the successful experience of protecting rights by legal means. Information work and public relations constitute one of the important dimensions of the work of the Foundation.
During the reported period the PR department collaborated with federal and regional television studios of the Russian television (VGTRK), news agencies such as RIA “Novosti”, ITAR TAS, Interfax, Rosbalt and others; radio stations such as “Ekho Moskvy”, “Svoboda”, internet resource of VGTRK – Strana.Ru and others.
On the significant pieces of news (the assault of the Sochi OMON (special police force) on the rest house “Druzhba”; the trial of the policemen who tortured Dmitry Noskov, a student of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Engineering (MIFI), the claim of the passenger of the Moscow metro R.Baibekov for exemplary against the policeman who fired at him and other priority and heavily publicised cases) the Foundation was asked for cooperation by the newspapers “Gazeta”, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” and other important press.
As a result of regular cooperation with the newspaper “Gazeta” the Foundation as “a regular expert” won its free subscription.
In 2007 the PR department initiated more than 2000 publications on the activities of the Foundation and its regional partners in federal and regional media. (A detailed statistics can be found in the appendix).
When there is an event (on average 3-4 times a week) like the initiation of a criminal case, transfer of the suit to the court, judgement etc., our PR department prepares a press-release and sends it to different media. As a result on an ordinary case there are usually about 7 publications in the electronic and printed media.
During the reported period the number of materials in the regional media, as well as their quality, increased, especially in the home regions of our partners and regions where there are our regional coordinators (Kemerovo, Chita oblasts, Republics of Khakassia and Komi). Besides, the PR department significantly extended the geography of media covering activities of the Foundation. For example, a high growth of publications mentioning the Foundation was registered in the media of Nizhny Novgorod and its oblast.
To evaluate the number of publications on the activity of the Foundation the PR department monitors media. It should be said that only those publications (with or without mentioning the name of the Foundation) that were initiated by our specialists are taken into account. Monitoring of the publications on Foundation’s activity and its regional partners is done by means of free search engines Yandex, Rambler, Novoteka, Google, and Yahoo. These search engines are not able to show all publications hence a big part of publications, videos and radio coverage on the cases executed by the Foundation is not monitored. The search is done by a number of key words, for instance “Public Verdict Foundation”, “Rustam Baibekov” (name of the victim) etc.
Quite often the news initiated by the Foundation appears in media without mentioning the name of the Foundation. To large extent it is connected to the editorial policy of media where it is often considered as publicity that must be paid for. Nevertheless, specialists of the PR department are able to tell which piece of news is initiated by them and hence should be counted in the monitoring since as a rule news agencies insert citations from the Foundation’s press-releases.
The PR department provides an information support to the activity of attorneys defending the interests of victims in the court. This support accounts to stability and importance of their positions at hearings. High attention of media to the hearings on abuses of law enforcement officers, including presence of journalists, contributes to the public control over courts and does not allow a judge to “play things cool” in each particular case.
In March 2007 thanks to the appeals of the Foundation, work of the lawyers of the organisation, attorneys and interest of media provoked by the PR department (in November 2006 Yevgeny Maininger from Tolliati managed to get compensation of 168 000 roubles) Maininger obtained the other part of the compensation amount – 150 000 roubles. Maininger was publicly and unlawfully accused in murder of the main editor of the newspaper “Tolliaty review” by then deputy Prosecutor General Kolesnikov and by then Minister of internal Affaires (now speaker of the State Duma) Gryzlov. Afterwards he was found non-guilty. The case of Maninger was executed by the Foundation and moved public opinion. There were more than 30 publications on the case in media.
In the same month the PR department organised informational and PR support for the appeal to the General Prosecution Office (for details see “Analytical work”). We prepared a press-release and the information was sent to the media. As a result federal and regional printed and electronic media made more than 10 publications on this topic. After the examination of the appeal of the Foundation due measures were taken on a number of cases cited in the document: in one criminal case written instructions were given to relevant officials about taking urgent measures in order to rectify the breaches; one case was taken under control of the General Prosecution Office, for the violations of the current legislation guilty officials were brought to disciplinary responsibility. There are sound grounds to attribute the reaction of the prosecution office to the large influence of the interest of the media towards this event.
In June the Public Verdict Foundation distributed a release on judgement in the “Case of Ulman”. The Public Verdict Foundation supported representatives of relatives of the killed Chechens. Information work of the PR department led to more than 30 publications on this case in the federal and regional media, including several videos in news blocks of regional studios in the South of Russia.
The case of Noskov starkly illustrated the efficiency of the Foundation’s PR department efforts to draw attention of journalists to trials and create by this a “platform” for public control over courts. The foundation provoked an unexampled attention of the media to this case, during hearings there was not enough space for all journalists. It affected the severity of the judgement given on the 29 October 2007 to three policemen who had used unlawful ways of inquiry towards Noskov. This example reveals how media can become partners of human rights organisations and participate in public control over court system.
Media released more than 300 publications on these hearings and the judgement. During the year journalists asked the Foundation’s experts for comments on the case and hearings more than 10 times and as a result there were 24 publications with the comments of the lawyers and PR specialists of the Foundation.
In October Sochi Lazarevsky district court started hearings on the criminal case against 8 officers of OMON who are charged with exceeding of official commissions with usage of force and police equipment (article 286, part 3 of the Criminal Code of the RF). 29 people were recognised as victims, including 5 minors.
During the reported period Federal and south Russian media covered cases taken over by the Foundation and the activity of the mobile group of human rights organisations more than 50 times. Since the attack on the camp “Druzhba” by the OMON officers and during the whole 2007 the PR department of the Foundation has been maintaining direct links with journalists, including journalists of the news agencies ITAR TASS, RIA “Novosti”; newspapers like “Gazeta” etc. The editor-in-chief of Strana.Ru, internet source of VGTRK, prepared an article “From the life of holidaymakers. Blood brothers” for the reference and analytical bulletin of the Foundation. The material describes the mass violation of the rights by the Sochi OMON officers, official investigation and the role of human rights activists.
Publishing activity is another important activity of the PR department.
26th June 2007 on the International Day of support for the victims of tortures the Public Verdict Foundation presented a new book in Moscow “Tortures in Russia. The positions of authorities, human rights organisation and the UN Committee against torture”. The book was presented to public and journalists in Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk, Yoshkar-Ola, Krasnodar, Syktyvkar and Novokuznetsk.
The book covers the documents reflecting the situation in the country concerning the execution of the UN Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment and punishment. Among them there are Alternative report prepared by the Coalition of Russian NGOs and recommendations of the Russian human rights organisations how to improve the situation.
The book also includes the fourth report of the RF about execution of the Convention and synthesis document of the UN Committee against torture with conclusions and recommendations for our country. The full version of the book is available at the web-page of the Public Verdict Foundation: http://www.publicverdict.org/library_zip/pytki.pdf.
In total more than 100 publications and news videos were made in federal and regional media after the presentation of the Foundation’s new book and events organised by the regional partners.
In December 2007 the next issue (2007 №1 (4)) of the Reference and analytical bulletin was prepared for publication. The main topic of the issue is “Prophylaxis” of civic activity, law enforcement bodies and freedom for associations. This theme was chosen on purpose.
The year 2007 will be remembered for aggravation of the relations between authorities and citizens defending their right of association, demonstration and meeting. During these events the law enforcement officers acted roughly and sometimes brutally in order to stop meetings, and this resulted in the injury of many participants of the meetings, Russian and foreign journalists, and ordinary passers-by.
The issue presents different personal opinions of the authors on current protesting activity and possibility to realize the freedom for associations.
In 2007 the audience of the web-site increased in comparison with the preceding year. “The nucleus of the web-site” i.e. users regularly visiting the main page of the site remained almost the same since the last year and totals to 550 users. Having studied the key words of the search we made a conclusion that users come to the web-site of the Public Verdict Foundation searching for information of three types:
А) information on the Foundation’s activity
In contrast to 2006 in 2007 the quantity of materials and news significantly went up becoming the most popular materials on the Foundation’s web-site. The analytical review about the Investigative committee was the most successful material of the last year.
in May – news aboutjudgement given to the officer of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate (GIBDD) by the Borzinsky city court (Chita oblast), in June – materials on the case of Sorokin and Zemlemerov, in July - news about judgement on the case of Anoshin, in October – the case of Noskov and analytical work on the Investigative Committee.
IV. Program of psychological and psychosocial help to the victims of arbitrary actions of law enforcement bodies
Experience of work with the victims of tortures and cruel and humiliating treatment shows that they need not only legal assistance, but also psychological and psychosocial rehabilitation. Lack of such rehabilitation does not allow them to be rehabilitated to a full extent and return to normal social life. Besides, in some cases lack of psychological and psychosocial support decreases effectiveness of the legal assistance as stress after the trauma prevents them from full participation in legal procedures. Considering it necessary to include psychological and psychosocial rehabilitation into its activities the Foundation launched such a program in 2007.
Taking into account the experience of western NGOs where restoration of the rights of victims, restoration of justice and compensation of damages apart from legal aspect include medical and psychosocial treatment, at the first stage of the Program we focused on the elaboration of such methods of rehabilitation that would allow take into consideration specific conditions of the human rights activity in Russia, resources of the Russian human rights organisations and necessities of their clients.
During 2007 we organised an orientation seminar for project participants (24-25 May, see part VI for details), preparation of materials on basic techniques (available on the web-page http://www.publicverdict.org/ru/articles/rehabilitatio.html), study of the specificity of the work of the regional human rights organisations and available there professional resources for organisation of rehabilitation programs and the final conference where the results of the work in each direction as well as know-how of psychologists and psychotherapists were presented. Psychosocial assistance was provided for 10 victims of the tortures and cruel treatment by law enforcement officers.
V. Social research and distribution of its findings
In order to assess the scale of arbitrariness of the law enforcement bodies the Foundation initiates and conducts special surveys with the assistance of established sociological institutes.
The PR department of the Foundation publicises the findings of sociological surveys initiated by the Foundation. They use standard forms such as press-conferences where the journalists are informed about the results of the research, press-releases and by the word of mouth (specialists of the department call journalists who write on the violations and abuses of law enforcement officers and tell the results). In addition the results are published in the Reference and analytical bulletin of the Public Verdict Foundation.
In January 2007 thePR department of the Foundation initiated more than 20 publications in federal and regional media on the results of the study “Index of arbitrariness of the law enforcement bodies” conducted by Levada Centre in December 2006.
The purpose of the study was to measure the level of trust of Russians towards law enforcement officers (police and prosecution office) as well as to courts. Sociologists calculated the Index of arbitrariness of the law enforcement bodies as a synthetic index of the dynamics of mass opinion that showed the feeling of lack of protection from unlawful actions of the police, prosecution office and courts.
It is necessary to study thoroughly the opinions of separate social groups in order to get a better image of public opinion.
So in order to study the opinion of the youth, one of the most mobile social groups of the Russian society the Public Verdict Foundation in cooperation with Analytical Centre of Yury Levada elaborated and carried out an all-Russian survey “Youth and law enforcement bodies – the problem of trust”. The findings were presented to the media and the public at the end of January 2007. 1200 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were questioned.
Survey covered young people from Saint-Petersburg, Voronezh, Stavropol, Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk, Magadan, Moscow, Kemerovo, Kazan, Cheboksary, Vladimir, Postov-on-Don, Orenburg, Kaliningrad, Ulianovsk, Kursk, Kurgan, Khanty-Mansiisk, Abakan and other cities.
In December 2007 the Foundation initiated a new research topic. The reform of the police was chosen as a theme of the study. During the whole year this topic was broadly covered by the media, first of all due to the creation of the Investigative Committee attached to the Prosecution Office. At the same time the reform of the police, a more interesting question for ordinary people because they have to deal with local police officers, remains under-covered.
The new research has several purposes. First of all, to find out how much Russians support the idea of the police reform. Secondly, to discover what according to ordinary people should be the main tasks and directions of that reform. Thirdly, to put onto the agenda the discussion of the police reform by presenting the results of the survey and conducting other public events connected to this theme, thus drawing attention of the media towards the topic of the reform of the police still working under the law “About Police” from 1991.
The survey and its questions were elaborated by a sociologist of the Public Verdict Foundation and conducted by the Analytical centre of Yu. Levada. The survey was carried out on 18-25th December 2007 on the basis of representative selection (N=1000, 18+) by means of personal interviews at homes.
The results of the survey will be published in the beginning of 2008, the full report on the study will be placed at the web-site of the Foundation under the heading “Research”.
VI. Contribution to the strengthening of the regional partner human rights organisations: seminars, internships, consultations
In 2007 the cooperation with regional partner organisations on legal and informational support to the cases on arbitrariness of law enforcement officers was continued. Regular cooperation comprises consultations and participation in the preparation of the procedural documents. The most efficient collaboration is set up with Nizhny Nivgorod Committee Against Torture, Ryazan Memorial, South Siberian Human Rights Centre, Memorial Human Rights Committee of the Republic of Komi, Human Rights Movement “Osa” (Abakan, republic of Khakassia), organisation “Person and Law/Chelovek I Zakon” (Yoshkar-Ola, Republic of Marii El). The Foundation also collaborated with the Krasnodar organisation “Mothers for protection of the rights of the detained, suspects and convicts”, Chita Human Rights Centre, Novorossiisk Human Rights Committee, Krasnoyarsk Public Committee on Human Rights.
Apart from consultations the Foundation kept on providing the opportunities for internships and educational seminars for representatives of regional partner NGOs.
On the 24-25 May 2007 the Foundation held a seminar “Psychological assistance to the victims of violence and cruel treatment, in which 16 representatives of regional partner NGOs took part (lawyers, social workers, psychologists). This seminar opened a new direction in the activities of the Foundation – Program of Psychological rehabilitation of victims of torture and cruel treatment. During the seminar the participants learned about psychological aspects of traumatic experience acquired after falling a victim to violent and cruel treatment, about cautious techniques of interviewing that do not hurt a victim again (so called “listening from both sides”) as well as practised skills of conducting a detailed interview. The participants were taught how to register the stories of the victims in a way allowing to maintain and strengthen the stories of survival and to distribute the information in the community as well as how to carry out the “ceremony of recognition” as a special type of group work contributing to the creation of the support communities. They also applied the acquired knowledge to the situation of the repeated trauma and professional depletion of the specialists themselves.
On the 27–28 October 2007 the Public Verdict Foundation held in the Independent press-centre a seminar “PR and information activities of the human rights/ public organisation in the circumstances of the crisis”. The coaches were PR expert Zhanna Lyapunova and psychologist Dmitry Aksenov.
PR specialists along with press-secretaries and heads of the partner organisations offering legal support to citizens against unlawful actions of the law enforcement bodies took part in this seminar.
On the first day of the seminar participants, using lectures and role games, learned the problems of crisis situations in the human rights organisations, stages and possible reactions, PR actions in a crisis and in interaction with media. The second day of the seminar was devoted to the psychological basis of work in crisis. Special attention was paid to the usage of psychological techniques while working with journalists. In the form of role games they learned different types of reaction strategies applicable in the case of a massive negative campaign against the organisation in media.
The seminar hosted representatives of partner organisations from 8 regions: Republic of Komi (Memorial Human Rights Committee of the Republic of Komi), Republic of Marii El (Yoshkar-Ola organisation “Person and Law/Chelovek I Zakon”),Krasnodar krai (Novorossiisk Human Rights Committee), Krasnoyarsk krai (Krasnoyarsk Public Committee on Human Rights), Kemerovo oblast (South Siberian Human Rights Centre), Nizhny Novgorod oblast (Nizhny Nivgorod Committee Against Torture), Ryazan oblast (Ryazan Memorial), Chita oblast (Chita Human Rights Centre).
On the 16-17 December 2007 in the Independent press-centre the Foundation held its final conference on realization of the Program on elaborating and introducing models of psychosocial rehabilitation of the victims of tortures and other types of cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment by the law enforcement officers. During the conference the participants discussed the results of the program on psychological assistance in 2007, difficulties, drew a plan for 2008.
On the 20-21 December 2007 in the Independent press-centre the Foundation organised a seminar for partner regional organisations and organisations cooperating with the Foundation on “Strategies and tactics of presenting interests of victims in prejudicial inquiry and in the trial after the creation of the Investigative Committee attached to the General Prosecution Office of the Rf”.
Professors of Moscow University of Legal Studies, attorneys were invited to give this seminar.
Seminar discussed in details such crimes as exceeding of official commissions (article 286 of the Criminal Code of the RF), abuse of power (article 285 of the Criminal Code of the RF), promotion of hatred or hostility as well as humiliation of a person’s dignity (article 282 of the Criminal Code of the RF), forgery by an official (article 292 of the Criminal Code of the RF), neglect on duty (article 293 of the Criminal Code of the RF), falsification of evidence (article 303 of the Criminal Code of the RF).
Special attention was given to the elaboration of the strategy and tactics of the fight against the ill practice of law enforcement officials to hide offences committed by them. This is about situations where having unlawfully used force and trying to hide this fact they bring a case to the prosecution office against their own victims accusing them in infringement on the life of the of law enforcement officers (article 317 of the Criminal Code of the RF), attack on (article 318 of the Criminal Code of the RF) or insult of (article 319 of the Criminal Code of the RF) the authority representative.
Creation of the Investigative Committee attached to the Prosecution Office drastically changed the procedure of lodging a complaint about the unlawful actions of law enforcement officers. That is why during the seminar the changed functions and competences of officials of these two units were thoroughly studied and a preliminary strategy of appeal to the Investigative Committee and the Prosecution Office was worked out. In order to polish the knowledge and skills acquired during the seminar participants were offered a role game where on a crime case under the control of coaches they could practice how to act in direct and cross examination, formulate and ask questions, participate in debates.
The Foundation still pays high attention to the professional level of human rights activists working on arbitrariness of the law enforcement bodies.
In 2007 legal department of the Foundation provided opportunity for internships to two colleagues of the South Siberian Human Rights Centre (Koinova O.A., Burmitskaya Ye.Ya.) and a representative of the Abakan human rights movement “Osa” Chebodayev A.M. The PR department of the Foundation hosted 3 interns from regional partner organisations: South Siberian Human Rights Centre (Kopalova E.), “Chelovek I Zakon” (Eremina E.), Ryazan Memorial (Brikker N).
The colleagues of the Foundation are regularly invited to share experience and skills at seminars held abroad. So in June 2007 PR specialists held a three-day seminar-training for the Colleagues from NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The seminar was organised in the framework of the project of the Public Foundation “Freedom Voice” (Kyrgyzstan) on prevention of tortures and opposition of their usage in Central Asia. Our specialists told about effective methods of informational support and PR activity in the work with media on cases of violations of people’s rights, tortures and cruel treatment by the law enforcement machinery in Russia. The participants discussed the situation on human rights in Central Asia. They also saw a presentation of the new book of the Foundation “Tortures in Russia. Positions of authorities, human rights organisations and the UN Committee against torture”. The seminar showed that the experience of Russian NGOs against torture and cruel treatment is relevant in Central Asia and can be applied not only in Russia.