Înapoi First Council of Europe anti-torture Committee report on the Russian Federation published

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has today published a report on the Russian Federation, at the request of the Russian authorities and together with their response. The report concerns the CPT’s third periodic visit to the Russian Federation, carried out in December 2001. Although the committee has visited the Russian Federation on eleven occasions since 1998, this is the first CPT visit report on Russia to be made public.

The report contains findings and recommendations concerning places of detention in two far eastern regions of Russia, the territories of Khabarovsk and Primorskyi, as well as in a number of Militia (police) establishments in Moscow.

During the visit, the CPT received a disturbing number of allegations of physical ill-treatment by members of the Militia. In the report, the committee calls upon the Russian authorities to make it clear to Internal Affairs staff, and in particular to operational Militia staff in charge of gathering evidence, that the ill-treatment of persons in their custody is illegal and will be dealt with severely in the form of criminal prosecution and disciplinary action. The CPT welcomes new legal provisions which improve access to lawyers for detained persons. However, it recommends that the right of persons detained by the Militia to be examined by a doctor be expressly guaranteed.

As regards prisons, the CPT notes the progress made on reducing the country’s prison population. Nevertheless, at SIZO No.1 in Vladivostok – a pre-trial detention facility – the committee was concerned by the serious overcrowding and the continuing presence of shutters blocking access to natural light and fresh air in the cells. The report also criticises the practice of transferring back to Militia-run detention centres remand prisoners diagnosed with contagious tuberculosis, which is accompanied by an interruption of their treatment.

The Russian response refers to some positive measures taken to implement the CPT’s recommendations. In particular, the Ministry of Justice has instructed regional prison directorates to remove all shutters from the windows of prisoner accommodation; this is a major step forward in terms of improving conditions of detention. Further, it is indicated that the inmate population of the Vladivostok SIZO has dropped by 39% and that all prisoners have been provided with individual sleeping places.

The CPT report also makes recommendations in respect of Vladivostok City Psychiatric Hospital, which was severely overcrowded at the time of the visit and offered few therapeutic and rehabilitative activities to patients. In their response, the Russian authorities indicate that additional funding has been set aside for improving conditions at the hospital.

Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer welcomed the decision of the Russian authorities to authorise the publication of the report. “I hope that the publication process will be extended to other CPT reports concerning the Russian Federation, including those on visits to the Chechen Republic,” he added.

The report (in English) and the response (in English and Russian) are available on the CPT’s website: http://www.cpt.coe.int  

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