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Human Rights Defenders and Russian Authorities to Tell UN about Torture in Russia

7 November 2012 

Source: (info)

· Human rights defenders 

Over 8-12 November the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) is to assess the situation concerning torture in the Russian Federation. Russian NGOs are set to give their views to members of the Committee as part of the official hearings on the Russian Federation’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 

As Memorial Human Rights Centre reports, the consultations will be based on a discussion of the NGOs’ Alternative Report on torture and the Russian government’s measures to prevent it. The Alternative Report has been prepared by a coalition of human rights organizations coordinated by the NGO Public Verdict Foundation. The report will be made public on 8 November.

The Russian Federation must report to the UN Committee every four years on measures taken to prevent torture. Russia made this commitment in 1987 when it ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. According to existing procedure, the Committee holds formal consultations with human rights and other NGOs before the hearing of the government’s report. The purpose of these consultations is to enable members of the Committee to receive additional information on the situation concerning torture in the country from persons and organizations that by nature of their work meet with victims of torture. The Committee aims towards optimal objectivity comprehensiveness in its assessment of the situation in the State. This year the consultations will be dedicated to discussing issues put forward in Russian NGOs’ Alternative Report.

The report is titled “alternative” because it supplements the official report provided by the Russian Federation (Russia’s fifth periodic report was submitted to the UN Committee in December 2010.) Official reports provided by the Russian government are based on a description of legislation and relevant statistics. However, they lack sufficient information about the actual implementation of the laws, information about issues that arise in practice, and analysis of the causes of torture. The Alternative Report fills in these gaps.

Following consultations with the NGOs and a review of the report provided by the Russian government, the Committee will adopt concluding remarks on 12 November. These remarks will draw attention to positive changes that have taken place with regard to torture in Russia, note existing problems in this area, and provide a list of recommendations. Since some of these recommendations will be given priority status, in a year’s time Russia will have to prepare a report on their implementation.

The Alternative Report has been written by a coalition which includes the organizations Public Verdict Foundation, Civic Assistance, Memorial Human Rights Centre, Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg, the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia, Interregional Committee Against Torture, Human Rights Institute, the Moscow office of Penal Reform International, Youth Human Rights Movement, the Krasnoyarsk Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, the Centre for Civic Education and Human Rights, Russian Justice Initiative (Utrecht), and Legal Assistance – Astraea.

This translation has been adapted from a translation originally published by Memorial Human Rights Centre HERE.