1. While acknowledging that during the reporting period some positive changes connected with Russian penal system did take place on the territory of the Russian Federation, Russian NGOs are very concerned with the cases of torture and other cases of abusive treatment in the most critical sectors of the country (police, army, penal institutions). In particular, the report gives a detailed analysis of the problems with impunity for using torture, conflicts with functions of prosecutor’s office and absence of adequate system of rehabilitation and compensation for torture victims. Taking into consideration specific situation in the Caucasian region, the authors decided to put the analysis of the situation regarding the use of torture in that region in a separate section.
2. Having considered the Third Periodic Report of the Russian Federation, the Committee against Torture recommended the Russian authorities to immediately include into internal legislature the definition of the term “torture”, registered in the Article 1 of the Convention against Torture. The committee also recommended adding classification to the internal legislation to allow torture and other types of inhuman, cruel and humiliating punishment to be considered as crimes. It must be noted, that during the reported period, the Russian authorities have made several amendments to the legislature in order to ban torture. These measures however were not enough to fully carry out the recommendations of the Committee. The definition of the term “torture and cruel and humiliating treatment” adopted on December 8, 2003 in the annotation to the article 117 of the Russian Criminal Code does not mention the presence of an official. Moreover, the norm that regulates the definition of the torture is included into a section that deals with crimes against life and health of an individual, but not into a section dealing with the crimes, committed by the officials at work. That means that this article can only be used, if the torture was carried out by an individual and not by an official. Moreover, the definition of torture, registered in national Criminal Code does not fully comply with the norms of the Convention against torture. It should be mentioned that the definition of a notion “cruel and humiliating treatment” cannot be found either in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation or in other national legal acts.
3. As a result, competent state institutions, which are in possession of the statistics on the use of Article 286 “Abuse of official authority”, do not have data on torture and cruel and humiliating treatment. That prevents the authorities from adequately estimating the amount of torture cases and does not allow the state to plan efficient preventive measures.
4. In reported period the legal framework, dealing with arrest and custody procedures and rights of detainees and accused, was subjected to changes and can guarantee the prevention of torture and inhuman treatment of these individuals. The adoption of the new legal norms did not have any practical impact on the position of the suspects, detainees and accused. Despite the fact that the new laws had been adopted, the competent institutions did not promote the introduction of institutional changes, which are necessary to execute these laws. They also did not provide necessary material resources for judges and police officials. Besides, some clauses, regulating the work of the police officers, were not amended or changed in order to make them comply with proclaimed aims of human rights protection. As a result, the suspects, detainees and accused still suffer from different violations of human rights, including bad treatment and even tortures.
5. Legislature (including the law “On Police”) is not precise enough in formulating the proportionality for the use of physical force, special means and firearms, which in practice lead to the situation, when the police officers can use excess force in order to prevent minor violations of public peace, even when the detainee is not maintaining resistance and not trying to make an escape. In some cases police officers use physical force even against children and elderly people, people, who due to natural reasons, are unable to maintain serious resistance or pose a threat for the life or health of police officers. Human rights organizations in Russian are especially concerned about the use of mass violence in 2004 –2006 in (particularly in Blagoveshenks city, the village of Rozhdesveno in Twer Region, the village of Ivanovskoe in Stavropol region and in Lazarev district of the city of Sotchi). It must be noted, that all the above operations were carried out without any visible reasons. In the mentioned towns no cases of mass public peace disturbances or emergencies were registered, which means there was no need to carry out special operations in addition to usual day-to-day activities of the police force. All the above situations resulted in the fact that the local population started to fear and distrust the police force, due to the excess and non-selective violence on their part.
6. Analyzing public attitude to torture and ill-treatment one shall take into account that sociological surveys identify that majority of Russians
81%) consider that they are not protected from arbitrariness of the law enforcement agents
. Survey initiated by the Nizhniy Novgorod Committee against Torture and implemented by the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences found out that during the year 2004 following number of respondents had been subjected to ill-treatment by police: 3,39% of respondents in Sankt-Petersbourg, 4,66% in Pskov Region, 3,40% in Nizhniy Novgorod Region, 4,63% in Komi Republic, and 4,54% in Chita Region. For all regions where survey had been conducted average percentage of respondents mentioned that in the year 2004 they had been subjected to ill-treatment was 4,12%. In addition some of the surveyed individuals mentioned that in order to exercise pressure on them (to punish, to threaten or to extract information or confession) torture had been applied to third persons: relatives, friends or colleagues. In different regions following number of surveyed underline this problem: 1,5% of respondents in Sankt-Petersbourg, 1,2% in Pskov Region, 0,2% in Nizhniy Novgorod Region, 1,0% in Komi Republic, and 3,3% in Chita Region. The same survey had also found that 64,3% of respondents suggest that torture is used in Russia (27,9% believed that torture applied systematically) in Sankt-Petersbourg; in Pskov Region 56,0% suggest that torture is used (26,5% that torture applied systematically); in Nizhniy Novgorod Region 64,4% suggest that torture is used (35,4% believe that torture applied systematically); in Komi Republic 72,7% suggest that torture is used (30,9% believe that torture applied systematically); in Chita Region 54,6% suggest that torture is used (20,8% believe that torture applied systematically).
7. It must be mentioned that since the Third Periodic Report of the Russian Federation was considered, the number of investigations carried out as a response to complains about tortures and inhuman treatment, has increased. In comparison with the previous reporting period, the number of police force employees, held liable for these offenses, has also increased. These changes can be explained by the fact, that the victims of torture and cruel treatment are trying to seek justice and with the help of lawyers, working in human rights organizations persistently demand investigations from relevant authorities. Those changes, however, cannot be viewed as a definite progress achieved by Russia in carrying out its responsibilities to conduct efficient and fair investigation on torture cases. Now, just like in previous reporting year, the prosecutor’s offices do not show imitative in starting investigations on torture cases. It is very rare for the prosecutor’s office to independently initiate the examinations and investigations, even if they possess the data that the torture had been administered. More often, the issue of investigation the information about torture arises when the victims or their representatives come to the prosecutors’ office independently, to file a complain. Prosecutors often do not meet the time deadlines, while investigating torture cases; they postpone the necessary investigative activities without any plausible reason, which leads to delays in investigations. Thus, the prosecutors fail to comply with the time limits stated in the legislature. According to the analysis of the decisions, made by prosecutors on the basis of investigations of torture complains, the prosecutor’s office employees very often start the investigation process while being completely sure that the complain is a lie. The data, that proves, that torture very likely did take place (such as physical injuries, for example) can be ignored. It very often happens, that the prosecutor’s office does not consider the witness testimonies, believing them not to be unreliable, if the witness is not a police employee. At the same time, prosecutors can be quite uncritical with the testimonies of the police officers, even those officers that are named by the victim as participants in torture. The victims have to wait for the decision for years, appealing against illegal and unwarranted denials in investigations or decisions to close the investigation. This so-called “ping-pong” practice, when a torture complaint is moved from one institution to the other never reaching a final decision, can mainly be blamed on the fact, that the investigation officers, who do not comply with the principles of efficient investigations, do not suffer any punishment. The prosecutor’s office employees, guilty in carrying out many illegal verdicts that derogate from victims’ rights usually are not held liable.
8. The reason why investigations on torture complaints prove to be inefficient lay in the fact that the prosecutor’s office is not a fully independent organization. In practice, the conflict between the function of criminal prosecution and function of supervision of preliminary investigation and investigation is usually solved in favor of strengthening the position of prosecution, rather than investigation of suspects’ complaint on torture and other violations. The survey carried out in 10 region of Russia
showed that the prosecutor’s office employees see their main task in prosecuting criminals. While naming their priorities in supervising legality of investigation procedures, the majority believes that they lay in providing inventory of the crimes, rather than fight the violation of accused and suspects’ rights.
9. Thus, one may say that the recommendations of the Committee against Torture of the UN to ensure that the fair, immediate and complete investigations of numerous statements of torture administration were not fully implemented by the Russian Federation government. Same holds true of legal prosecution or punishment of those found guilty. No measure were taken to increase the independency of the investigations. (For detailed description, see Article 12, items 12.20-12.45)
10. There is no comprehensive official statistics of investigations of complaints about tortures in police institutions, and the same situation can be seen with the complaints about tortures in penal institutions. Very few human rights organizations in the Russian regions managed to get some information from Prosecutor’s office regarding torture administration in the penal institutions. Human rights organizations in different regions of Russia noted some specific cases when the penal institutions officials were held liable for cruelty to detainees and other official malfeasances, but these cases are rare and unique, and they are considerably less of them than the cases when police officials were held liable for tortures. While analyzing the cases that come to the attentions of human rights organizations one can come to a conclusion, that the inspections and investigations of torture cases in penal institutions have the same disadvantages as the torture cases in police. The inspections are not scrupulous enough; their results look prejudged and unconvincing. Moreover the penal institutions detainees have much less opportunities to appeal against unwarranted verdicts of Prosecutor or to demand scrupulous investigation, than the victims of torture from police officers. The prisoner is under permanent control of the penal institution officials, who can block him from filing a complaint or exert pressure on the complainant. The reasons for low efficiency of investigations and inspections of prisoners’ complaints can be explained by a number of factors. One problem is that the medical staff of penal institutions is made up not from independent civilian doctors, but from UFSIN officers, who are subordinate to the director of the penal institution. In such conditions, it is hard to expect timely and scrupulous record of all injuries. Lack of medical evidence in turn, may seriously hinder the prosecutors’ attempts in investigating the torture cases in penal institutions. The other problem is that in the conditions of the closed penal institutions, the prosecutors may experience difficulties in obtaining witness testimonies. There were cases when the witnesses and even the complainants take back their testimonies. Together with these objective factors, that hinder the work of the prosecutors, the human rights organizations also notice certain bias in prosecutors’ attitude to torture cases in penal institutions. One may get an impression, that the prosecutors believe that since the prisoners are criminals their testimonies are false by definition and it does not make sense to ensure their well being (For detailed description, please see Article 12, items 12.46-12.52).
11. Solders’ Mothers Committees testify, that in the majority of cases investigations of military personnel complaints about tortures and cruel treatment in military units are given superficial attention by military prosecutors or military investigators. The investigators and prosecutors cannot function independently and there may be pressure from the Command personnel. The army command personnel do not wish for the military crimes to go public. On the basis of the analysis of the certain cases, the Solders’ Mothers Committees point out the most widely practices of concealing the torture and cruel treatment: the recorded injuries are explained as the victims own fault due to personal lack of caution, falsification of the investigation materials, pressure on victims and witnesses to make them false swear about the details of the incident. Torture cases concerning drafted personnel are more often investigated and send to court, while the cases involving military officers administering torture are usually closed during the preliminary investigations due to the lack of corpus delicti. The Command personnel that do not take measure to prevent tortures, are only held liable when these torture cases became widely known to public and got a serious public response (For detailed description please see Article 12, items 12.53-12.57).
12. In 2002 the UN Committee against Torture, having considered the Third Periodic Report of the Russian Federation on observing the Convention against torture, has recommended among other things, to ensure the protection of individuals who filed complaints about torture administration and their witnesses from prosecution. Every individual who had suffered torture is legally entitled to file a complaint at any time and to any state law-enforcement facility. They are also entitled to see the investigation materials and to appeal against the verdict, including appealing to higher courts. In practice, however, the situation is such that the representatives of the state very often act contrary to the law and hinder the individual from filing a complaint. Human rights organizations have investigated incidents like this. In particular there were cases when the prosecutors had violated the procedure of filing a complaint: they applied direct physical countermeasure to the complainant by illegally taking them to custody or by discrediting them. People who are currently situated in penal institutions usually do not have difficulties in filing a complaint about torture or cruel treatment that had taken place before the prisoner had been brought to the penal institution. In practice the difficulties arise, however, when the prisoner attempts to file a complaint against the administration of this particular penal institution, its officials or administration. According to human rights organizations that regularly visit the penal institutions in Twer and Perm regions and in the Republic of Komi and the Republic of Tatarstan, the prisoners do not have a real opportunity to file a complaint about torture or cruel treatment on the part of the administration, despite the fact that the law prohibits censorship of the prisoners letters addressed to prosecutors, higher institutions of penal institutions or human rights commissioner. As a rule, in penal institutions, all complaints and statements addressed to higher institutions are subjected to inspection. As a rule, these complaints are delivered unofficially (via relatives, lawyers, released prisoners and so on). The prosecutors do not conceal identity of complainants and witnesses. As a result, very often this information can reach the suspects in administering torture, who are employed with law-enforcement institutions or their colleagues. Thus, an individual who filed a complaint about torture and their witnesses become victims of prosecution on the part of officials involving in torture and their colleagues. Similar incidents have been recorded in Mari-El Republic and in the Republic of Tatarstan, in Chita, Nizhny Novgorov and other Russian regions. People who suffered torture while being imprisoned in penal institutions are in more vulnerable situation than those victims, who are free. In practice the protection of prisoners, complaining about torture and cruel treatment is not given serious attention. According to Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, only one from thousand of military personnel, who had faced cruel treatment in the army use their right to file a complaint. The main reason is fear of revenge on the part of soldiers or officers that the complaint was filed against (For detailed description please see Article 13)
13. In items 121-121 of the Forth Periodic Report of the Russian Federation, the procedure of rehabilitation, set in Article 133 of the RF Criminal Code, is described as a mean of providing information about implementing Article 14 of the Convention. It must be noted, however, that the provided norm has almost nothing in common with what the modern world today understands under the rehabilitation of torture victims. Under rehabilitation, the Russian law understands the procedure of restoration the freedoms and rights of the individuals who suffered illegal or unwarranted criminal prosecution. This procedure presupposed compensation of property damage, consequences of moral damage and restoration of labor, pension or other rights, that had been violated by unwarranted legal actions. The law, however, do not list the fact of torture administration among the reasons or rehabilitation. That means, that even if the fact of torture is proved in court, it will not automatically mean that the rehabilitation procedure, underlined in Criminal Code will apply to the victim. As for medical, physiological and social rehabilitation of the victims of torture, the state institutions of Russia do not provide and do not finance such an aid. Some efforts to provide medial, social and psychological rehabilitation of torture victims are made by civil organizations on the financing from charities and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (Please see Article 14, items 14.1-14.6 for detailed description).
14. In cases when the fact of torture and the specific officials guilty in torture administering were not stated in the court sentence, the torture victim formally has the right to file a compensation claim. In this case, however, the victim must look for evidence, supporting the claim, the quilt of the officials and the causal connection between the torture and the moral harm, suffered by the victim. Moreover, if the previous investigation showed lack of corpus delicti, the torture victim will have to overturn this decision. It is highly unlikely that in such legal situation the court will reach a verdict to pay compensation. According to the data, collected by human rights organizations in 11 Russian regions (Mariy-El, Komi, Bashkorkostan and Tatarstan Republics and in Krasnodar, Perm, Nizhniy Novgorod, Chita, Orenburg, Sverdlovsk and Twer regions) no cases had been recorded, when a victim filed a compensation claim while no individual was charged with crime of administering torture. This means that victim’s opportunity to be awarded compensation is almost directly influenced from how efficient the prosecutor’s office is in investigation the torture complaint. Inefficient and prolonged investigation seriously hinders the victim’s access to compensation. While analyzing court decisions on awarding compensation to the victims of torture and cruel treatment, one may notice that during the recent years the amount of compensation awarded for moral harm and moral damage has increased. On the one hand, the fact that the amount of compensational payments has increased means, that the courts have come to realize that torture is one of the most serious violations in human rights and freedoms. On the other hand, the observed increased may be explained by inflation processes and increase of population life level. According to the data, colleted by Public Verdict Foundation, during 2004-2005 the amount of compensation payments to individuals subjected to torture or to their representatives (in case of death of a victim) varied from 7 thousand to 280 thousand rubles, depending on nature and gravity of damage. The practice of determining the amount is different from court to court. It must also be mentioned, that torture victims, who won the compensation cases face many serious difficulties in acquiring their compensation payments. It can be said without doubts, that the practice of implementing court decisions on such lawsuits does not comply with Article 14 of the Convention against Torture (Please see Article 14, items 14.7-14.21 for more details).
15. The relevant authorities of the Russian Federation acknowledged the seriousness of the problem, dealing with living conditions in detention facilities. During the last 4 years they have introduced a number of measures aimed at improving the situation. It must be noted, that the efforts on decreasing the number of detainees, repairing the old facilities, building the new ones and increase of budget expenses for detainees needs have brought considerable results. Taking all this into account, it must be mentioned, however, that according to the information from relatives of detainees, their lawyers, visitors, human rights organizations and detainees, the living conditions in many detention facilities do not comply with principles of humanity and humiliate human dignity. Despite the efforts of the authorities to decrease the number of detainees and to build new detention facilities, the problem of overcrowded penal institutions was not solved completely. The authorities themselves are aware of this problem. The Attorney General of the Russian Federation in his report on prosecutors’ activity stated that in Buryatia, Chuvashia and Tuva republics, in Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and Chita regions, in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as in some other Russian regions some detention facilities and wards are overpopulated by 1,5-2 times. It is also important to mention that all the projects on construction new buildings of detention facilities and repairing the old ones are designed in accordance with the sanitary norm, stated in the current law
, where it is stated that a norm should be 4 square meters per person. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture states, however, that the sanitary norm in detention facilities should be no less than 6 square meters per person. The norm adopted in Russian legislature is non-acceptable because the detainee spends the whole day in the ward, with the exception of an hour and half that they spend outside. The terms of imprisonment in detention facility often exceed one year. There are still problems with complying with sanitary and hygienic norms in detentions facilities: very often detainees do not have bed sheets, sufficient food or adequate medical treatment (For details please see Article 16, items 16.2-16.11).
16. The representatives of civil organizations, who visit penal institutions, notice some positive changes in improvement of living conditions of prisoners. However, they also register a big number of problems and stress the necessity to continue to work to make the living conditions of the prisoners (cells, wards, sanitary and hygienic units, labor conditions, level of medical treatment and quality of food) comply with humanity principles. Human rights organizations report, that in many labor colonies the lavatories are situated in purpose-built constructions situated far from the living quarters. The equipment in the lavatories often does not allow the prisoners to satisfy their hygienic needs. The norm that requires to have at least one water tap per 10 people are often violated. In some labor colonies there were not enough taps from the very beginning, and in some colonies they got broken and had never been repaired. Despite the fact that more adequate norms regarding the food ration were introduced, the quality of food still leaves a lot to be desired. According to prisoners’ reports they are not able to survive without additional food products that they receive from home or buy with their own money in the shops of penal institutions. Human rights organizations receive complaints about anti-sanitary conditions and occupational traumatism in penal institutions. In a number of regions the level of medical aid is still considerable below standards, existing outside prisons. Due to the lack of medical staff the prisoners are not able to receive medical aid in time. According to the data from Social Partnership Foundation, there are no special conditions for prisoners with specific physical disabilities or illnesses (in particular, handicapped or HIV-positive prisoners) (For details please see article 16, items 16.12-16.50).
17. If the problem of bad living conditions in detention facilities was long acknowledged by relative authorities and some measures were taken to improve the situation, the living conditions in temporary isolation wards (IVS) have only recently come into the light. It is party connected with the fact, that until 2005 no independent observer was admitted to IVS. According to the descriptions, provided by competent officials and human rights activists, the living conditions in IVS are far from being humane and in some cases are much worse than the living conditions in detention facilities. (For details please see Article 16, items 16.51-16.55).
18. The living conditions in centers for deportees are very tough: humiliating treatment (bodily search before placing to the Center, prohibition to have writing equipment, prohibition to make phone calls or write letters), lack of sleeping places, absence of bed sheets and no washing facilities. 12 rubles per day are allocated for food for one person. The food is not only scarce but of bad quality and there is not enough tableware. The detainees often eat, using a piece of bread instead of a spoon or drinking out of their bowls like animals. Some detainees do not even have mattresses (For details please see Article 16, items 16.56-16.69).
19. The practice of working with drafted military personnel and their parents, who come to Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers for help and the research conducted in 2001 – 2003 by Human Rights Watch confirmed that in real food ration of soldiers does not even comply with those scarce food ration that is registered by the normative acts. The lack of food that is especially hard for first-year draftsmen, together with other reasons leads to deterioration of the personnel general health. Because medical aid is not always available, some insignificant health problems develop into serious diseases, because they had not been treated in due time. Complaints about poor quality of food, bad living conditions and absence of medical treatment are registered in almost all military districts and in all arms of the armed forces. There is another problem, which makes life difficult for sick soldiers in the army: the decision to transfer to the reserve takes unreasonably long time, while his medical documents travel from one medical institution to another. The procedure takes from one to three months and all that time the sick soldier is forced to stay on the territory of his military unit, where experiences jealousy and hostility from his fellow draftsmen (For details please see Article 16, items 16.70-16.87).
20. Analysis of the practice of obtaining a refugee status or acquiring temporary or political shelter allows to state that Russia does not comply with its international duties and cannot guarantee foreign citizens protection from being send back to the country, where they maybe facing torture and cruel treatment. Individuals seeking international protection face the real threat of being deported to the country of their origin, where they quite reasonably fear they will be subjected to prosecution and torture. The procedure of deportation does not presuppose considering a question of a threat of tortures in the country, where the individual is being deported. There are many cases when law-enforcing officers deported individuals to the CIS countries despite the fact, that the Deportation Request had political motives and there was real danger that once in the country, the individual will be subjected to torture or even executed. This concerns first and for most those countries, whose regimes are far from being democratic, like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is more important for the Russian authorities to maintain friendly and economically beneficial relationship between Russia and the mentioned countries, then to observe human rights regulations (For details please see article 3).
21. The present report contains a separate section, where torture and cruel treatment incidents in Chechnya and Northern Caucasus are analyzed in details. The analyses deals with legal framework of “anti-terrorist operation” in Chechen Republic and illegal nature of actions of law-enforcement structures, which is one of the reasons civilian population of Chechnya are still subjected to torture.
22. Extensive military actions in the Chechen republic were taking place since fall of 1999 until March 2000. Until 2003 extensive “mopping up operations” were conducted. They were carried out by joint forces of military and police forces. During these operations a lot of illegal actions was conducted. Detainees were sent to “temporary filter centers”, located near the town, where a military unit was stationed. In these centers people were beaten and cruelly tortured. There are known cases when the detainees just “disappeared” after “mopping up operations” or after being brought to “temporary filter centers”. Locals later discovered the bodies of some of «disappeared» people. The use of violence during arrest, convoy and imprisonment of a detainee and using physical force during interrogation and investigation became a norm for law-enforcement officers, penal system officials and investigators.
23. Gradually, while control was established over greater territory of Chechnya and a network of informers had been created, the federal forces changed their tactics. They gave up the practice of massive “mopping ups” and started “targeted special operations”. Armed people in camouflage uniform and in masks would drive up to a house in armored vehicles with painted license plates usually during nighttime. They would detain people and take them with them. The selectivity did not mean less cruelty: detained or rather kidnapped individuals were as a rule never seen again.
24. Another very important modern tendency is “chechenization” of the conflict. In 2003 – 2005 in Chechnya special law-enforcement structures were formed, consisting of ethnic Chechens. Apart from police forces, special units to fight militants were formed. These units were given the “right” to use illegal violence. People who fall into their hand usually “disappear”: they are kept in illegal prisons, without being registered as prisoners or detainees, where they are tortured to get “confessions”. These confessions are later used to create false criminal cases. In half of all reported cases, kidnapped people either disappears without a trace, or their bodies are later found.
25. The problem with people “disappearance” is still very acute in Chechnya today. In the majority of cases, the disappeared people are not kidnapped by the militants but by the law-enforcement structures, generally locals. Today one can see a decrease in the number of disappearances recorded by the human rights organizations, but this decrease is not as considerable as the officials report it is. Party this decrease is connected with peculiarity of “chechenization” of the conflict and presence of latent violence in Chechnya that is not recorded by either human rights organizations or by law-enforcement structures.
26. It is usually impossible to find those responsible in kidnappings, and neither prosecutors nor human rights activists manage to succeed. There is selective impunity at work when the crimes against civilians are investigated. If the crime was committed by a militant, the sentence is always severe, no matter how serious the crime actually was. What concerns the crimes, committed by representatives of federal and pro-federal forces, everything is different. Official statistics is falsified. The investigations of majority of cases, where representatives of federal forces are involved get suspended due to “impossibility to find individuals, charged with a crime”. Very little number of cases actually makes it to court rooms. Overwhelming majority of accused receive only nominal punishments for serious crimes (For more details see items NC.30-NC.50)
27. The attempts to overcome “legal impunity” by using court mechanism as a rule are not very successful. The courts that officially started to function in Chechnya from the beginning of 2001, work in banco only since 2004. Even today, however, court system does not provide justice, since the courts are dependent and are sometimes involved in falsification of criminal cases. In the situation of “conflicting interests”, the prosecutors, whose function it is to conduct investigation as well we supervise the investigators, are not interested in investigating falsification of criminal cases and use of torture to obtain confessions (For more details please see items NC.51-NC.57). Lack of activity on the part of prosecutors and its passiveness during investigation procedures does not enable the victims to get compensation. The only efficient mechanism in this situation is European Court of Human rights. In the Russian Federation report (item 120) stated that both the plaintiffs and witnesses are protected by the state. The real life shows completely different pictures though. Both plaintiffs and witnesses are subjected to serious pressure to make them withdraw their lawsuit from official institutions. This pressure can come in different forms, including even murder or “disappearance” and the complainants to European Court of Human Rights have already encountered it (For more details pleas see items NC.59-NC.62).
28. It is asserted in the Forth Periodic Report (item 45) that both intergovernmental groups and NGOs had free access to the region, including penal institutions, in order to conduct monitoring. It is true that since the beginning of the armed conflict in Chechnya, seven visits of European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to Russia and to Northern Caucasus had been conducted. There are strong grounds to assert that the resulting reports contained evidence of serious violations by the Russian Federation of its obligations to prevent and prosecute torture. These reports, however, may only be published if the inspected side agrees, and the Russian side refuses to allow the publication. During the second Chechen war the European Committee was so unsatisfied with the situation in Chechnya and lack of cooperation from the Russian side, that it used the extreme and exceptional measure twice: making public statements “about Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation” (first statement in June 2001 and second statement in July 2003). The representatives of international humanitarian organizations continue their work in Russia and in North Caucasus. However according to the data from Memorial activists in “2004 International Red Cross Committee (ICRS) uncounted problems, that hinder their activities (visiting detention facilities and other penal institutions) as a result of which ICRC had to temporary stop visiting the prisoners”.
29. According to the report of the Russian Federation, detention facilities had been established and started to function in Chechnya in the city of Grozny (SIZO-1) and in the village of Chenokozovo of Naursky region, where together with the detention facility a labor colony started to function. In Chechen regions the regional departments of internal affairs (ROVD) have their own temporary isolator wards (IVS). Recently human rights activists did not receive complaints about cruel treatment in SIZO-1. Being kept in custody in IVS does not guarantee personal safety and absence of torture and cruel treatment. There are cases of deaths that occurred right on the territory of ROVD. These incidents had not been properly investigated. Apart from SIZO and IVS that are legally registered, there are “quasi-legal” and illegal (secret) prisons existing on the territory of Chechnya. Confinement facilities at the premises of operational search bureaus (ORB) can be attributed to the first type. The most well known of them is situated in ORB No. 2 of Northern Caucasus operative department of Main administration of Ministry for Internal Affairs in South Federal District, on the territory of former premises of RUBOP in Staropromyslovky district. This structure consists of primarily ethnic Chechens, but there are also a considerable number of policemen who come from other parts of Russia. The aim of ORB is to carry out operational and search activities, rather then conduct investigative actions. It is against the law to keep detainees and prisoners on the premises of ORB. Since the ORB-2 was established in 2002, however, suspects and accused were always kept in custody on its premises. The idea behind ORB existence was to create the conditions to exert pressure (including torture) on arrested and detained people, in order to make them sign “necessary” testimonies. This practice is spreading in 2005 in some Chechen regions the branches of ORB-2 were opened with their own illegal premises for detaining suspects and accused (For more details see items NC.74-NC.96).
30. The problem of illegal (secret) prisons, which is connected with “chechenization” of the conflict and with the fact that Chechen law-enforcement structures are using hostages as a tool for fighting militants is very acute today. Although the initiative of Attorney General regarding “taking counter-hostages”, which he voiced on the meeting of State Duma on October 20, 2004 was not approved and was not registered in the legislature, it can be seen as a de facto encouragement of “hostage practice” used in Chechnya – encouragement on the part of a governmental official who is responsible for maintaining legal order in the country. Chechen police officers use the practice of take the relatives of illegal militants hostage in order to force the later to surrender.
31. Armed conflict on Northern Caucasus was not limited to Chechen Republic. In 1999 the military operations started in the Republic of Dagestan. Starting from 2002 the conflict is gradually spreading to the Russian regions around Chechnya. Today the extremists activities and “anti-terrorist operation” in various forms take place on the territories of most North Caucasian Republics – Dagestan, Ingushetia, Northern Osetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and to the territory of Stavropol Region. That means that “anti-terrorist” practices, connected with kidnapping and illegal detaining of individuals, use of torture and other cruel and humiliating treatment, are spreading to the territory of the whole Northern Caucasus. This triggers the further escalation of the conflict (in items NC.106-NC.126 detailed information about the situation in two regions – Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria can be found).
See “Index of Arbitrariness of law enforcement agencies: estimations of sociologists and comments of human rights activists”. Public Verdict Foundation and Levada-Center. Moscow, 2005
Survey has been carried out by DEMOS Center and its partner organizations in Republics of Adygeya, Tatarstan, Komi, Altaiski krai, Krasnoyarski krai, Sverdlovskaya, Voronezhskaya, Nizhegorodskaya, Tverskaya and Permskaya regions.
Article 23 of the law «On Custodial Sentences…»