Political Consultative Council under the President of the Russian Federation
The Permanent Chamber on Human Rights
of April 7, 1998
On gross violations of human rights in the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
After considering the matter of gross violations of human rights in the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation at a hearing, the Permanent Chamber on Human Rights notes:
Torture and cruel, degrading forms of treatment or punishment with respect to citizens in the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the pretrial stages of criminal justice administration have a massive and systematic character which makes it one of the most serious problems of abuse of power and violations of human rights.
Large number of facts about torture in Russia are mentioned in reports of Russian and international human rights organizations.
The current practice is partially related to the problems and deficiencies of legislation and ministerial normative regulations. Despite the recommendation of the United Nations Committee against Torture, such a dangerous crime as torture has not been criminalized. As a result, official statistics on the number of revealed cases do not exist. The issue of public control over the activities of the law enforcement agencies has also not been solved.
However, deficiencies in legislation cannot solely explain why citizens are not protected against lawlessness commited by Ministry of Internal Affairs agencies. Other reasons are the widespread and increasing use of of unlawful forms and methods of pressure on persons who found themselves in the criminal justice system: suspects, defendants, witnesses, as well as those detained for administrative offenses. Repressive methods (instead of methods directed towards the protection of rights) remain an element of the technology of the law enforcement agencies.Target indicators for the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are pre-planned and reported figures (crime solving rates and crime plans).
One of the reasons for the gross violations of human rights by Ministry of Internal Affairs agencies is the swelling of and reorganization the law enforcement system, which has led to a drop in professional and moral quality of its officials.
The Chamber sees the existing situation with regard to the protection of citizens against violations of their rights by law enforcement agencies as destructive, as constituting a real threat to national security, which dictates the need to adopt urgent measures to overcome it with the joined efforts of state power, human rights organizations and the media.
Considering the above, as well as the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which came into force for the Russian Federation in 1998, the Chamber decided:
1. To create a working group with the aim of drafting a federal program for the struggle against torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, asking the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Procuracy General of the Russian Federation to assign representatives to participate in the preparation of the draft. To take into account during the preparation of the draft federal program the recommendations contained in the materials presented at the session of the Chamber.
2. To propose to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Procuracy General of the Russian Federation to discuss the possibility of cooperation with nongovernmental organizations in the field of monitoring respect for human rights at police precincts, departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and temporary holding centers.
3. To propose to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Procuracy General of the Russian Federation to adopt normative acts requiring that all detainees be given a card listing their rights, as well as requiring that a duty lawyer (defender) be present at police precincts, departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and temporary holding centers.
4. To propose to those who have the right of legislative initiative to develop draft laws on public control over respect for the rights of detainees and on amendments to the criminal code of the Russian Federation and the criminal procedure code of the Russian Federation, which would criminalize tortureand other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to submit these to the State Duma.
The Chairman of the Permanent Chamber V. Borshchev
Translated by Diederik Lohman