The Russian PMC Project will organise a training thematic seminar for PMC members, regional ombudsmen’s staff members and representatives of the Federal Penitentiary Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs from Far Eastern Federal District, first and foremost from Primorie and Khabarovsk territories and other regions.
The participants will discuss the situation with the medical care and insurance in places of deprivation of liberty in light of the international standards and with a focus on the regional particularities. The visit to Khabarovsk investigative ward and temporary detention facility is planned. During the visit the participants will have the opportunity to discuss the above mentioned issues and methods of detecting violations of prisoners’ rights to medical care and insurance. By the end of the seminar it is planned to elaborate the recommendations on improving the situation.
The training seminar will be conducted by the PMC Project jointly with the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service of Krasnoyarsk territory and the “Public Verdict” Fund. PMC members of Krasnoyarsk territory and neighboring regions, staff members of the regional ombudsmen’s office and representatives of Assistants for Human Rights of the Federal Penitentiary Service will take part in the activity.
The participants will analyze the situation with the medical care in prisons in light of European standards and European Court of Human Rights’ decisions, as well as they will discuss the national particularities of the issue and the ways of finding out the violations of right to medical care and insurance in places of detention by means of public monitoring. At the end of the seminar it is planned to elaborate the recommendations on improving the situation.
“I welcome the decision of the Russian Government to request the publication of this report as a sign of openness which I trust will continue in the future,” said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
“ I am confident that this is the beginning of a new policy of the Russian Federation which will increase the impact of the Committee’s work in Russia, to everyone’s benefit,” added CPT President Lətif Hüseynov.
In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) expressed serious concerns about the treatment of persons held by law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasian region of the Russian Federation and the effectiveness of the action taken by the investigative authorities concerning possible ill-treatment.
The CPT makes a series of recommendations aimed at combating torture and other forms of ill-treatment. In particular, it proposes measures to ensure better accountability of law enforcement agencies, reinforce fundamental safeguards against ill-treatment and improve conditions of detention in law enforcement and pre-trial establishments.
In their response, the Russian authorities provide information on steps taken or envisaged to implement the CPT’s recommendations, including as regards investigations into specific cases of possible ill-treatment raised by the Committee and improvements to conditions of detention in the establishments visited.
Until recently, the Russian Federation had represented an exception to the well-established trend towards States lifting the veil of confidentiality and publishing CPT visit reports. The issue of publication of visit reports and Government responses has been raised on several occasions, including during high-level talks in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg in May and June 2012.
The report covers the most recent visit to the North Caucasian region, in April/May 2011. The main objective of the visit was to examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement agencies in the Chechen Republic, the Republic of Dagestan and the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania.
Denmark makes a voluntary contribution of 3 000 000 DKK (approximately 400 000 €) to the Council of Europe towards the Russian Public Monitoring Committees (PMC) Project for 2013-2014. The Project consists of providing technical assistance to Russian citizens, organized in PMCs, who under a law of 2008 are entitled to visit places of detention in order to prevent ill-treatment there.
The agreement was signed today by Ambassador Claus von Barnekow, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the Council of Europe, and Ms Gabriella Battaini - Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Ms Maria Ochoa-Llido a.i. Director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination, was representing the Directorate General of Democracy, which implements the Project.
Denmark has already supported the preparatory phase of the Project which has also received funding, in 2012, from the Human Rights Trust Fund, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation and a private Russian bank. For more information please refer to http://www.coe.int/t/democracy/migration/russian-pmc_en.asp (in English) and www.antipytki.ru (in Russian).
The PMC Project Team will meet the Supervisory Board in the premises of the Russian Human Rights Commissioner. They will discuss the results of the first year of the PMC Project and will plan the activities for 2013. All the regional and thematic coordinators of the PMC Project will present a brief report on their activity and propose the seminars and trainings that they would like to hold in their regions in the coming year. The Supervisory Board is co-chaired by Vladimir Lukin, Human Rights Commissioner in the Russian Federation, and Markus Jaeger, Head of Migration Coordination Division, Directorate of Human Rights and Anti-discrimination of the Directorate General of Democracy of the Council of Europe.
This is the second in a series of training seminars for the most experienced PMC members. The participants will discuss difficulties in the protection of rights of persons with disabilities and mental disorders in places of detention. Such problems as providing medical care, exemption from the punishment and prevention of suicide risk for the vulnerable groups of prisoners will be analyzed during the seminar. Two international experts will take part: Ms Monica Platek, Professor, Head of Criminology Department, Law Faculty, Warsaw University, will talk about the protection of rights of prisoners with disabilities and Ms Irena Kriznik, former prison psychologist, former prison director from Slovenia, will speak on observance of human rights of prisoners with mental disorders. They will share their own experiences and will inform the participants about the international standards and foreign countries' experience. A number of eminent Russian experts will participate in the activity as well.
The some 30 participants for this training seminar were chosen based on a competition, which helped identify the most experienced and competent PMC members, who, after having had their qualifications even further enhanced through the training, will subsequently lead training workshops for less experienced PMC members in the regions.
The training in Moscow will be attended by international and Russian experts, among the latter Mr. Alexander Nazarov, Mr. Andrey Babushkin, Mr. Andrey Yurov, Mr. Sergey Shimovolos and others.
The training seminar will address the topic of how to avoid excessive use of disciplinary punishments and related special tools in prisons and other places of deprivation of liberty in the Russian Federation. The topic is linked to prisoners’ right to good health and health care, but also to common consequences of excessive punishments, namely protest actions and other forms of unrest in prisons. In addition to the PMC members of Volga federal district the event will also be attended by inter alia the following persons, representing relevant stakeholders and partners: Mr. Vasily Olnev, Commissioner on human rights of the Nizhny Novgorod region, Ms Maria Kannabikh, member of the Civic Chamber and of the PMC Project Supervisory Board and finally Mr. Sergey Potapov, Deputy Governor.
The seminar includes a training visit to the penal colony 11 of Nizhny Novgorod FSIN. The participants will have a possibility to visit different premises of the colony, to examine documents and to interview prisoners.
A seminar entitled “Successful Practices of the Ural Federal District PMC”, will be held under the auspices of the Russian PMC Project. The PMC representatives and staff members of Regional Human Rights Commissioners’ offices from Kurgansk, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, Tumen, Khanty-Mansiysk, Yamalo-Nenetsk and Perm regions will participate in the seminar.
The participants will share their successful experiences and will discuss possibilities to improve the public control over places of detention. The moderator of the activity will be Sergey Isaev, chairman of the Perm PMC and Russian PMC Project regional co-ordinator.
At this PMC Project seminar the participants, i.e. PMC members, representatives of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) and the Regional Ombudsman for the North-Western Federal District of the Russian Federation, as well as other relevant stakeholders, will join together to discuss how probation and conditional release, as well as alternative sanctions, could be used to avoid overcrowding in places of detention. Overcrowding is a main reason for inadequate conditions in prisons, which may at worse in themselves constitute an infringement of prisoners’ human rights. Among the speakers to share their knowledge and experience at this event one may mention regional ombudsman Alexander Shishlov, as well as other experts such as Mr. Ernest Mezak and Mr. Andrey Babushkin.
The Russian website for the PMC Project (www.antipytki.ru) will be one of the tools for the PMC Project’s implementation.
The site will provide information about the Project: its funding, duration, aims, team etc. In addition, it will be possible to read about events which will take place in the regions of the Russian Federation as regards public monitoring of places of detention. On this website it will also be possible to find legislation and regulations which are relevant to PMCs and their associated partners. Moreover, pertinent international agreements and conventions, as well as international news, will be published in the International Experience section of the website.
Furthermore, “the Handbook of the Public Monitor”, which was prepared by the PMC Project team, will be published on the site. In the Handbook there will be information about PMC members, contacts details for PMC chairmen, and information about regional ombudsmen, commissioners on children rights, regional departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Penitentiary Service and prosecutor’s offices etc.
Finally, in the “Methodologies and guides” section of the website, there will be recommendations of Russian and foreign NGOs in the sphere of public monitoring of places of detention. There will also be a section on experiences from the founding and development of NPMs abroad.
In late August the PMC resource centre of the North-Caucasus Federal District (NCFD) will be opened as part of the Russian PMC Project. It will be situated in the city of Karabulak, in the Republic of Ingushetia. The resource centre will provide support to the public monitoring committees of NCFD in a range of different ways.
Among other, the resource centre will offer help line services, accessible by phone or e-mail. It will also monitor information coming from other sources than PMCs (media, NGOs etc) as regards the situation in places of detention in the NCFD and it will publish the results of PMCs work on the Russian language PMC Project Web site “Russia Without Torture”.
Other important functions of this resource centre are the distribution of educational materials and literature to the PMCs in its area and the organization of regional thematic PMC Project seminars, in order to train current PMC members. At the same time, a lasting training capacity to be used for training future PMC members in methodology for carrying out monitoring visits to places of detention is established. The resource centre will also strive to improve the conditions for interaction between PMCs and between PMCs and regional ombudsmen, regional divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Penitentiary Service respectively.
An interregional round table discussion entitled “Topical Problems of Observance of Human Rights in Places of Detention in Siberian Federal District” will be held in Barnaul under the auspices of the Russian PMC Project.
This PMC Project round table in Barnaul will take place in co-operation with the Altai regional public organization “Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and Civil Initiatives".
Members of public monitoring committees from six Siberian regions(Republic of Khakassia, Altai Krai, Transbaikal Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Novosibirsk and Tomsk regions) will participate in the round table, as well as members of the public councils of law-enforcement agencies, experts, lawyers, representatives of FSIN, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, of the Migratory Agency of Altai Krai, of the regional Prosecutor’s Office, of the Civic Chamber of Altai Krai and of NGOs.
Members of Altai Krai, Transbaikal Krai, Novosibirsk and Tomsk regions’ PMCs in particular will report on their activities. Alexander Goncharenko, Altai Krai PMC chairman, PMC Project Regional Coordinator, will host the activity.
The first in a series of discussion/training seminars aimed at the most experienced PMC members will take place from 27 to 28 June 2012 in Moscow. The precise topic of the seminar is the often difficult question of how to balance justified security concerns with the essential goal of avoiding any unnecessary use of force or offence to the dignity of people deprived of their liberty in prisons or other comparable places of detention. Experiences in some Council of Europe member states have shown that a lot can be done in every day prison routines to improve the treatment of inmates without jeopardising security – while opting for a more respectful approach usually in itself improves co-operation with the incarnated and thereby increases security. Three international experts have been chosen to share their experiences and knowledge in this matter, namely Mr. Milos Jankovich, Deputy Ombudsman of Serbia and Mr Jim McManus, Professor of Criminal Justice of the Glasgow Caledonian University and former Chairman of the Parole Board of Scotland. The third expert is Ms Francesca Gordon, Project Manager for the Council of Europe European National Prevention Mechanism Network who will explain about relevant working methods of National Prevention Mechanisms. Finally, a broad range of pertinent Russian experts will be speaking at the seminar.
On 17 May 2012 PMC Project Team Russia will hold a meeting with the regional ombudsmen of the Russian Federation in the Sakharov House of Russian Emigration. The purpose is to discuss co-operation and co-ordination between PMCs and the regional ombudsmen. This foreseen co-operation and co-ordination between PMCs and regional ombudsmen is also expected to be mutually helpful for the Regional Co-ordinators of the PMC Project and the regional ombudsmen vis-à-vis their respective contacts with FSIN and Ministry of Internal Affairs’ staff members. The next day, on 18 May 2012, a publication on the results and discussions of the four PMC Pre Project conferences held in 2011 will be presented to the regional ombudsmen, as well as to media.
A meeting of the entire PMC Project Team Russia, i.e. of regional and thematic co-ordinators, the Special Project Advisor and the Project Management Team will be held on 20 April 2012 at the office of Mr Vladimir Lukin, Commissioner on Human Rights of the Russian Federation. Following the kick-off meeting for the Russian PMC Project, held in Moscow on 16 February 2012, at which the overall Work Plan of the PMC Project was adopted, the participants of the 20 April meeting will discuss and approve three core elements of the PMC Project’s implementation. These are, firstly, the plan, content and schedule for training sessions for trainers, secondly the main elements and outline of the PMC Project website to be put online in the near future, and thirdly the PMC Project work plans for each of the eight Federal Regions. Extensive preparatory work has been performed for all three elements during the winter. Moreover, a new PMC Project regional co-ordinator for the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation will be nominated and appointed at the meeting which will be chaired by the Federal Human Rights Commissioner, who is the Project Supervisor together with Markus Jaeger of the Council of Europe Human Rights and Antidiscriminiation Directorate.
One of the first activities under the Russian PMC Project will be the launch of a PMC Resource Centre in the Siberian Federal District (SFD) of the Russian Federation. The Resource Centre will be inaugurated and launch its activities on 26 March 2012 in the city of Barnaul by means of a first event - a round table on “ Human Rights in Places of Detention in the Altai Region: Results of PMC work in 2011”. The Resource Centre in the SFD will be the first of eight Resource Centers, the creation of which is planned within the PMC Project.
This Resource Center will be established with the aim of developing effective public monitoring in places of detention in the SFD of the Russian Federation. The Siberian Resource Center will perform a number of important tasks, such as providing information and guidance to PMCs in the SFD, monitor human rights violations in places of detention; provide operative consultations on human rights violations in places of detention in the format of a helpline; organize trainings for PMC members etc. The head of the Resource Centre will be the PMC Project Regional Co-ordinator of the SFD, the Chairman of the Altai Krai PMC, Mr. Alexander Goncharenko.
The formal kick-off meeting of the Russian Public Monitoring Committee (PMC) Project will be held in Moscow on 16 February 2012, attended by its Project Team and Supervisory Board.
The PMC Project was preceded in 2011 by a eight-months preparatory phase called the Pre Project, which unambiguously established the necessity and feasibility of the PMC Project. Its Implementation will include various capacity building actions for the benefit of the PMCs, such as in-depth analysis of their legal mandate and training in methodology for visiting places of deprivation of liberty. The training will among other take the form of internal and international exchanges of experience, as well as various co-operation modes with other promoters of human rights, such as regional ombudsmen and human rights NGOs. The Project also entails extensive co-operation with relevant officials such as those of the Service for the Execution of Punishment, prison officials etc. Necessary facilitating structures such as the creation of a high quality interactive and constantly updated PMC network website will accompany the other actions of the PMC Project. Apart from disseminating and using Russian domestic know-how as extensively as possible, the PMC Project will also benefit from international expertise, originating in e.g. the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the CPT) and the European National Prevention Mechanism (NPM) Network.
The main aim of the kick-off meeting in Moscow is to establish a work programme and schedule for the implementation of the PMC Project which will run until the end of 2014.