HomeLibraryRecommendations of Russian NGOs Concerning Measures Needed to Achieve Sustainable Compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Recommendations of Russian NGOs Concerning Measures Needed to Achieve Sustainable Compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

November 29, 2006 08:54

The recommendations are organized in accordance with the structure of the Alternative Report and the identified problem areas with regard to practices of torture and cruel, inhuman treatment.
Article 2 of the Convention
General measures to ensure compliance with provisions of the Convention
1. Russian competent authorities should study, analyze and evaluate practices used by law enforcement agencies to maintain public order and to combat crime, in order to identify practices inconsistent with the Convention, determine underlying reasons for such practices, and design comprehensive measures for their elimination.
2. Russian competent authorities should design a monitoring framework enabling an objective assessment of the prevalence of torture, cruel and degrading punishment in the country, with due regard to the latent nature of such offences. The government should also collect statistics to keep track of: a) the number of complaints about torture, cruel and degrading treatment; b) the number of investigations opened into complaints about torture; c) the number of torture complaints determined by investigations to be well-founded; d) the number of offenders convicted and sentenced in court for the use of torture; and  e) the number of persons brought to justice for the use of torture and inhuman treatment.
3. Russian competent authorities should continue to engage in international cooperation in the area of torture prevention, in particular: a) ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; and b) fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on Torture and with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
Article 3 of the Convention
Preventing the danger of torture in relation to decisions of granting asylum, extradition and expulsion   
1. The practice and procedure of granting asylum should be made consistent with international norms and relevant domestic legislation.  Authorities should be more careful in reviewing grounds for granting asylum as required by international treaties Russia is party to, and revise current policies of denying asylum.
2. Regardless of political and economic cooperation between Russia and countries practicing torture and ill-treatment, expulsion and extradition to such countries should not be allowed.
3. Russia should eliminate excessively broad application of art. 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Offences resulting in expulsion of immigrants for any, even insignificant non-compliance with immigration rules in Russia. For this purpose, it is necessary:
A) To amend art. 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Offences by a new Part Two to clarify and specify those violations of immigration rules  which may result in expulsion.
B) To design and publish internal guidelines (either in the Ministry of Interior or in the Federal Migration Service) to establish clear procedures for the use of expulsion as punishment. It should be accompanied by a clear instruction to officials that in deciding whether to expel an immigrant, they should be guided by the integrity of family and respect for family life, and by the provisions of the Russian Law on Refugees.
C) To ensure that courts which, in accordance with art. 3.10 of the Code of Administrative Offences, decide on administrative expulsion of immigrants should receive a similar clarification from the RF Supreme Court.
4. Subjects (regions) of the Russian Federation should set up a network of temporary accommodation centers for asylum seekers, where these people can stay while their asylum application is processed.
5. Subjects (regions) of the Russian Federation should set up holding centers for individuals facing expulsion and deportation, and ensure humane conditions and respect for human dignity in such centers. Counseling services should be available in such centers, explaining to detainees their rights, including the right to appeal a decision of administrative expulsion, deportation or extradition.
Article 4 of the Convention
1. Russia should introduce a definition of torture in its Criminal Code, consistent with the definition of torture in Article 1 of the Convention.
2. Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment should be defined in law as a specific offence committed by a government official.
Article 10 of the Convention
Education and training of law enforcement personnel
1. Russian competent authorities should expand existing practices of international cooperation in the sphere of training law enforcement and penitentiary personnel, involving in such training a maximum possible number of officers directly responsible for interaction with citizens. 
2. Russian competent authorities should expand existing experience of involving NGOs in education and training of penitentiary and law enforcement personnel,
Article 11 of the Convention
Ensuring compliance with the Convention provisions with regard to arrest, interrogation, detention or imprisonment
1. Russian competent authorities should establish provisions for inspection of prisons and detention places by independent experts. In particular, Russia should finalize and adopt relevant legislation.
2.  The medical service responsible for health check-ups of prisoners and detainees should not be subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice (Federal Penitentiary Service). According to recommendations made by the UN Committee against Torture, medical services in places of detention should be independent of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice.
3. Prosecutorial bodies and courts should develop a uniform, non-contradictory interpretation of legislative provisions regulating the procedure of arrest and detention, and the status of detainees, to ensure practical implementation of the right to access a lawyer and other guarantees of protection from torture starting from the moment of actual deprivation of freedom, regardless of grounds for arrest and detention.
4. To ensure the right to defense, Russia should amend its Criminal Procedure Code to allow for participation of lay defenders at all stages of criminal proceedings at the request of defendant (detainee, accused). Their role in the proceedings should be the same as that of professional defense lawyers.
5. Temporary holding centers, as a type of detention facilities, should be transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice, thereby completing the reform of detention facilities.
6. Russia should implement a series of measures to strengthen human and financial resources available to the police force, so that they can detect and investigate crimes using modern methods and technology.
Article 12 of the Convention
Ensuring prompt and impartial investigation of torture complaints
1. The Office of the Prosecutor General should develop guidelines for investigation of torture, cruel and degrading treatment taking into account criminological characteristics of such crimes and the international standards of investigating such crimes, as reflected in the Istanbul Protocol and relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. 
2. Russian authorities should offer hands-on training to prosecutorial personnel in methods of investigating torture, cruel and degrading treatment.   
3. Russian authorities should adopt a series of measures, including legislation, to ensure torture victims access to investigation consistent with standards established by the Convention against Torture and by the European Court of Human Rights.
Article 13 of the Convention
Ensure the right to complain
 1. Russian authorities should review the current procedure whereby prisoners file complaints via the administration of detention facilities, and to design a new complaint system enabling prisoners to file complaints regardless of the goodwill of the prison administration.
The situation in Chechnya and in the North Caucasus
1. Federal and local uniformed personnel deployed in the North Caucasus, particularly in the Chechen Republic, should be instructed by their superiors that respect for human rights is absolutely imperative,  including, in particular, total prohibition of torture and ill-treatment  while carrying out their duty, and liability for compliance with criminal orders of their commanders.
2. Review the composition and activity of various uniformed forces active in the North Caucasus, particularly in the Chechen Republic, and bring them into strict compliance with the federal legislation.
3. Improve legal and judicial protection of people living in the North Caucasus, in particular, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino- Balkaria, who have been victimized by torture, cruel and degrading treatment (in particular, eliminate illegal prisons, ensure detainees immediate access to a lawyer,  carefully investigate complaints about torture and illegal pressure).
4. Grant compensations to residents of the North Caucasus region, particularly Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino- Balkaria, who have been victimized by torture, cruel and degrading treatment.
5. Ensure free access to pre-trial detention facilities in the Chechen Republic and in other parts of the North Caucasus to members of international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
6. Announce a broad amnesty to all members of armed formations opposing the federal troops in Chechnya. The only reason to deny such amnesty should be involvement in serious crimes against peaceful civilians, prisoners of war, hostages.
6а. Eliminate pressure against amnestied individuals with the purpose of getting them to join any uniformed force or unit.
6б. Appoint a special representative of the Russian President or Government to oversee the implementation of amnesty and to ensure safety of amnestied individuals.
7. Ensure genuine cooperation with the Council of Europe and the UN human rights mechanisms, including special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe and the UN treaty bodies.
8. Ensure effective cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights, particularly compliance with the Court’s judgments concerning individual and general measures (to start with translation of the Court's judgments into Russian and their dissemination to competent government agencies).
8а. Ensure safety of Chechnya-based applicants to the European Court, their family members, and their representatives in the Court, in particular: through effective cooperation with the Court.
9. Ensure free access to Chechnya for mass media, including foreign journalists.
10. Assist Russian and international human rights organizations in their efforts to monitor the human rights situation in Chechnya and other republics of the North Caucasus.
10а. Engage with human rights groups to support their efforts to eliminate the atmosphere of impunity and to improve the human rights situation in the North Caucasus.
11. Ensure compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law standards (including the European Convention on Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the Council of Europe Guidelines on human rights and the fight against terrorism) in laws, policies, and practices of fighting terrorism.