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Rights Defenders Call on Head of Investigative Committee to Create Special Department to Investigate Offences by Law Enforcement Personnel

Source: (info), 22/03/12

· Human rights defenders  · Ministry of the Interior  · Public Prosecutors

On 22 March Russian rights activists appealed to the head of the Investigative Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin, with a request to set up within the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation a special department which would carry out investigations specifically in relation to the personnel of the police, the Federal Drug Control Agency and the Federal Penitentiary Agency.

The authors of the appeal include the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Public Verdict Foundation, the Committee against Torture, the Agora Human Rights Association, Memorial Human Rights Centre, the Citizens’ Assistance Committee and the Movement for Human Rights.

The leaders of these human rights organisations state in their declaration:

“The investigators of this new department should be independent of the personnel of these agencies in their conduct of the investigation of other general criminal offences.

“Evidence regularly published by rights organisations and the mass media confirms that torture is employed by law enforcement personnel not only in the Republic of Tartarstan but in other regions of our country. Rights defenders stress that torture continues to exist because it is inflicted with impunity. Personnel committing torture continue to work in law enforcement structures. The complaints of ordinary citizens are not properly investigated.”

According to the civic activists: “The independence of investigators is essential in assuring the quality of the examination and investigation of such complaints.”

They note that in current practice the investigators who examine complaints of torture in the course of criminal investigations are working in the same department as those investigators who are in charge of these investigations, and the investigations into criminal cases are conducted jointly with the police, who provide so-called “operational support” in the investigation.

It was noted in the appeal to the head of the Investigative Committee that: “Therefore, the investigator, initiating an investigation into evidence of torture by the police, jeopardises his everyday working relationship with the police, which is essential for investigation of other criminal cases.

“The consequences of the existence of such a conflict of interest were clearly demonstrated in the events in Kazan. Even before the death of Sergei Nazarov members of the public had repeatedly complained about the violence of the personnel at the Dalny Police Station. However, criminal investigations in relation to their complaints were not opened in good time.”

This situation is typical, something which can be demonstrated by the evidence of hundreds of criminal cases well-known to human rights activists. According to the rights activists, the necessity to abolish this conflict of interests has recently come to a head, as has the need to ensure the real independence of the investigation in the prosecution of law enforcement personnel.

“It is necessary to separate the work on general criminal offences from the work on offences committed by personnel of law enforcement agencies,” the appeal emphasises. “It is possible to solve this problem by setting up special departments within the Investigative Committee to carry out investigations specifically relating to the conduct of the personnel of the police, the Federal Drug Control Agency and the Federal Penitentiary Agency. Such departments could be subordinated either directly to the head of the Investigative Committee, or to the federal district and regional sub-divisions of the Investigative Committee.”

The rights defenders request that Aleksandr Bastrykin “immediately develop proposals by the Investigative Committee on this issue on the basis of discussions with the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, in order to secure adoption of the necessary regulations and their implementation in practice.”

Source: Аgora Human Rights Association