Report reveals torture at all levels of Russia’s criminal justice system


A report published in November 2013 by ACAT in collaboration with The Committee against Torture and The Public Verdict Foundation, concluded that torture, as a phenomenon is commonplace, systematic and deeply rooted in Russian state institutions. The report entitled The Multiple Faces of Torture: A study of the phenomenon of Torture in Russia found that the use of torture as a tool can be observed at every level of the criminal justice system from the initial arrest of the convict through to incarceration in a state prison.

While some groups tend to be specifically targeted by the police, such as migrant workers, there is a feeling that any individual can fall foul to being targeted at one stage in their lives by the police. The use of torture is seen as an effective method to secure speedy confessions in a judicial system driven by numbers and statistics where there is pressure on all levels of the criminal justice system to secure the highest number of convictions.

In some parts of Russia torture is carried out on a massive scale, and nowhere can this practice be seen in its full glaring clarity as in Chechnya. With all aspect of the judicial system seriously flawed it is not uncommon for the police to secure a confession from a suspect before killing that person and announcing to the public that the convict is a suspected terrorist and was killed in a special operation. In Chechnya, police impunity for crimes of torture and murder against its population is high with the main target group being young men arrested under suspicion of being sympathisers of rebel factions or radical Muslim groups.

Despite recent reforms to the judiciary in Russia, torture is still rampant in the prison system. The torture phenomenon is also linked to conditions within the prison system where overcrowding, gruelling work conditions and access to appropriate health care are the daily realities. Such conditions coupled with acts of violence perpetrated by prison guards, who see themselves as being outside the law in terms of prosecution for torture, also facilitates an environment conducive to on-going human rights abuses.

While some success has been made by international groups in exposing the extent of this problem, huge obstacles remain, and NGO’s who work with these issues are severely curtailed at an institutional and organisational level by archaic foreign agent laws that were recently passed in Russia.

Categories: News.
Tags: Judicial System, Justice, Prison System, Russia, and Torture.
Regions: Russia.