1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
Measures taken to improve the conditions in detention facilities
2.1. It is necessary to mention that during the last 5 years, the Russian authorities continued to take measures in order to improve the conditions for individuals held in detention facilities (SIZO). These measures aimed at decreasing the total number of individuals, kept in custody and on improving material conditions. In general, these measure had an overall positive effect.
2.2. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation Periodic Report does not list all the measures, taken by competent authorities in order to improve the situation in SIZOs. The present report does not, in particular, mention data on programs, aimed at renovating old premises of detention facilities and constructing new ones. There measures and their effect are described in the Article 16 (section Conditions of detention in pre-trial detention centers, items 16.1-16.3) of the Russian non-governmental organizations report on observing the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by the Russian Federation. It must be noted, that the Federal Service of Punishment Execution developed a Federal Target Program for constructing and renovating SIZOs in 2007-2016. Implementation of this program will help to further improve living conditions in SIZOs.
2.3. One of the measures that the state came up with in order to solve the problem of overcrowded SIZOs was the creation of Premises Functioning as Detention Facility (PFRS). In the decree No. 212 issued by the Minister of Justice from June 30, 1999, a list of penal institutions on the premises of which PFRS must be established was approved. On the basis of this decree, individuals arrested on criminal charges may, during the preliminary investigation, be kept not in SIZO, but be sent to the facilities, where prisoners are kept. According to Federal Service of Punishment Execution of the Russian Federation there are 157 PFRS functioning on the territory of Russia as of October 1, 2006. The limit for detainees allowed to be kept in PFRS is different from institution to institution varying from 25 to 350 people.
2.4. According to many human rights organizations, creation of PFRS will be able to considerably change the situation with SIZO overpopulation. Besides, being kept in PFRS may create additional problems both detainees and law-enforcement officers. The problem is that the majority of penal institutions in Russia are situated in a considerable distance (sometimes more than 100 km) from cities and towns. Prosecutor’s offices, lawyers’ offices and human rights organizations are usually situated within the city limits. This creates additional difficulties for lawyers, representing their clients who are kept in PFRS. Moreover in a remote places, where PFRS are located the efficiency of prosecutors’ control is considerably lower than in regional (republican) centers where SIZOs are located. The opportunity of public control is almost equal to zero. All these circumstances increase the risk of torture and cruel treatment and may allow for other violations of human rights to take place in PFRS (the additional information on this problem can be found in the Article 11, items 11.73-11.83 of the Russian NGOs report). Besides, since the penal institutions, where PFRS are created are usually situated far from the city, where the investigation is conducted, that means that the convoy of the arrested individuals will take considerably more time, which will create additional incontinences for both detainees and convoy patrol services.
2.5. Items 47-56 of the Periodic Report of the Russian Federation mention the introduction of new Code of Criminal Procedure, which presupposes legal process of solving question of arrest before trial for accused and suspects. It also describes court practices on the administering arrest in 2002 – 2003. In addition to this information the Article 11
(section Use of arrest
, items 11.31-11.40) of the Russian NGOs Report on observing the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by the Russian Federation describes the court practices in 2004-2005. It must be noted that the Ministry of Justice and Federal Service of Punishment Execution are not satisfied with court practices regarding arrests. According to Ju. I Kalinin, the director of the Federal Service of Punishment Executions “…we take people to custody way to much. Last year (2005) 65 thousand people were freed in the courtroom, out of this number 2000 were freed because there was no corpus delicti. That means that they were kept in detention facility for nothing! And nobody was held responsible for this. As for the rest, they were given some administrative punishments, not custodial sentences. That means, that these people were posing no threat to the public well being, and there was no necessity to keep them in custody
”. It must be also mentioned that in 2005 and 2006, European Court on Human Rights passed seven decisions, stated that the Russian legal practice regarding the issue of arrest was not complying with the European Convention. Unfortunately, competent authorities have not yet proposed any measures to change the arrest practice.
Measures to improve the situation in penal institutions and protection of prisoners’ human rights
2.6. Measures taken by the Russian authorities in order to improve the living conditions in penal institutions and measures taken to protect the rights and freedoms of the prisoners are listed in items 131-141 of the Periodic Report of the Russian Federation. The data on this question can also be found in the Article 16 (items 16.12-16.50) of the Russian NGOs report. In general it can be said, that the measures taken to improve the situation in penal institutions were mainly connected with improving the material and living conditions (repairing the premises, larger budget for food). This cannot be considered enough. In his estimation of the situation with penal institutions, the Russian minister of Justice Yuri Chaika said the following on March 17, 2006:
“In order to make criminal punishments more humane, we have introduced a new measure – custodial restraint. We have increased an amount of ward area, added 8 thousand additional places. The food ration norms were increased and the amount of licensed medical units is now 70 % of the norm”.
2.7. Although the financing is considerably increased, the penal system is still a problem, mainly because the rights of the individuals taken to custody are not observed. In many respects the situation with the rights of the detained individuals is going back to the outdated methods.
2.8. The question with the observance of rights of detainees concerning their rights of decent living conditions, medical aids, labor conditions and providing other social guarantees.
2.9. In some penal facilities the environment in living quarters is not safe. People died when the building of a detention facility collapsed in Kapotnya. Only by lucky chance, human casualties were avoided during the fire in IK-5 in Stavropol Region. In penal institutions the mortality rate has increased 12 % and occupational traumatism is now three times higher.
2.10. There are recorded cases when some amateur organizations were granted the authority on providing supervision, discipline and order in penal facilities, which led to physical pressure and moral humiliation of other convicts, thus provoking acts of mass disobedience. For example, such actions in colonies in Kursk, Samara and Omsk regions received extensive negative publicity not only in Russia but also abroad.
2.11. The stuff redundancy among convicts working on paid jobs is continuing (26 people were made redundant during one year) – today every third convict does not work.
2.12. The objective reflections of system malfunctioning are the complaints from convicts. They provide a lot of food for thoughts: the number of complaints, that the Ministry of Justice received has increased 12 times, comparing with the previous year. Out of this amount, the number of justified complaints has increased by 4,3 times, meaning that there were 87 % more officials working in penal system, who were held responsible. Every third complaint was sent illegally, concealed from the penal institutions administration.
2.13. The main reason for the current situation is that the supervisors of the Service are preaching the “autonomy” of the Service and aim at total elimination of human rights protection system in penal institutions, breaking free from Ministry coordination and supervision»
2.14. As a measure to overcome a current situation, the minister of Justice proposed to introduce punishments, which are alternative to custodial sentences. He also called for increasing the efforts in implementing the requirements outlined in the international human rights documents
2.15. It must be noted, that some steps has been already taken in order to introduce punishments alternative to custodial sentences. Mass media sources inform, that in October 2006 in four regions of the Russian Federation there will be implemented an experiment on introducing digital control for the individuals, found guilty in minor crimes.
2.16. The regular inspections of penal institutions, made by independent experts may act as an additional measures to ensure that the convicts’ rights are not violated. It must be mentioned that during a reported year Russian authorities continued their cooperation with European Committee for Torture Prevention, which regularly visits penal institutions situated on the territory of the Russian Federation. However, during the reported period no additional steps to develop international cooperation in this sphere have been taken. Particularly, the measures to prepare signing and ratification of the Additional Protocol for Convention Against Torture and other inhuman and depredating treatments or punishments were not taken. Moreover, in October 2006 the Russian Federation has postponed for indefinite period the visit of special speaker from the UNN, whose visit was previously scheduled for 9-20 October.
2.17. Item 9-10 of the Periodic report of the Russian Federation tells about measures taken to create a system of independent inspection of penal institutions on the national level. In particular, it talks about creating Public Council at the Ministry of Justice. It also mentions considering a draft law on public control for custodial institutions. Unfortunately, these important initiatives did not get any further development.
Measures taken to improve the situation in temporary isolation wards of the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs and other custodial places
2.18. Item 156-157 of the Periodic Report of the Russian Federation illustrates bad living conditions in temporary isolation wards (IVS) of Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs and contains proposals as to how to improve them.
2.19. In 2006 mass media published the information that in some region (in particular in Altay region and in Archangelsk region) new premises for isolation wards were built. These new buildings were made in accordance with sanitary requirements and principles of humane treatment of prisoners. It was also reported that Ministry for Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation prepared a project of a target program, according to which during 2007-2009 the system of IVS must be made to comply with international standards.
Measures taken to prevent torture and cruel and depredating treatment in work of police and other law-enforcement institutions
2.20. The newly introduced legal measures, aimed at protecting the rights of suspects and accused must be attributed to positive progress. All the new introductions in this sphere are fully described in items 4-6, 47-64 and in 75-83 of the Periodic Report of the Russian Federation. In practice, however, the above legal innovations are not implemented fully and this creates conditions for administering tortures as a mean of investigation.
2.21. The full implementation of the guarantees from torture, outlined in the Russian legislature, requires major changes in the work of law-enforcement institutions. However, no systematic preventive measures are taken, as the authorities do not acknowledge the fact, that tortures are used in order to investigate crimes. Only in August 2005, in his Open Letter the Minister for Internal Affairs addressed his subordinates and pointed out that any illegal, cruel or humiliating treatment was unacceptable. Although one cannot deny the importance of this document, that requires the police officers to give up inhuman methods of solving their tasks, it alone is not enough to prevent tortures.
2.22. While discussing an issue of measures taken to punish individuals, participating in administering torture, one must note, that during 2005-2006 the number of court sentences, accusing police officers in using torture or mistreating prisoners. Despite all this, methods of investigation the torture complaints do not always comply with the Convention standards. The detailed analysis of issues connected with torture cases investigation and the subsequent liability of those found guilty may be found in Article 12 of the Report of the Russian non-governmental organizations.
Measures taken to prevent cruel treatment in the armed forces
2.23. It must be mentioned, that in 2006 the Russian authorities paid a close attention to the problem of violence in the armed forces. Defense Ministry started to publish data on deaths in the army and its causes. On February 14, 2006 in Defense Committee at the State Duma of the Russian Federation held a meeting to discuss this problem. Defense Ministry reported, that they are currently working on developing an action plan to prevent “hazing” in the army. Among the proposed measures the following ones are named: to cut down the draft service term from two years to one year; to increase the share of contract members of the army to 60-70 % from the total number of the military personnel, while decreasing the number of draftees till 30 %; changes in disciplinary system in the army. It is hard to predict now whether these measures will prove efficient.
2.24. It must also be said that on October 8, 2006 the Defense Minister of the Russian Federation signed a decree forbidding the military commanders to engage the military personnel in carrying out duties, which are not connected with their military service duties. The decree states, that in recent times there have been many cases, both in the army and in the navy, when some commanders engaged the military personnel in the activities, which are not connected with their direct military duties. This is a violation of the federal laws “On Military Servicemen Status” and “On Military duty and Military Service”. According to the minister, this faulty practice leads to accidents, connected with injuries or casualties. With his decree the minister did not just banned this practice, but also demanded from the military institutions to investigate all cases when the military personnel was engaged in carrying out different activities. If among these activities, those not connected with military service are found, the cases should be thoroughly investigated and the guilty ones should be held liable.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 28, 2006. № 164.
For a full report of the minister of justice please go to the ministry web page http://www.minjust.ru/news/detail.php?ID=914