Human rights defender Igor Kaliapin: "For us to work with the status of ‘foreign agent’ is unacceptable and insulting"

posted 22 Jan 2015, 12:08 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Jan 2015, 12:16 ]
19 January 2015

Source: (info)
On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.

The basis for this designation, evidently, was the notice issued by the prosecutor of Nizhny Novgorod region, Oleg Ponasenko, on 29 December last year, instructing the organization to remove violations of federal law.

"The prosecutor accuses us of being ‘foreign agents’ because we openly tell the public and inform the authorities about instances of torture by the police, and about how badly the Investigative Committee investigates these cases. And in doing this they say we are trying to change government policy,” Igor Kaliapin, chair of Committee Against Torture, told Novaya gazeta.

“In other words, in the logic of the prosecutor, it turns out that government policy is police torture and the covering up of torture by the investigative bodies.”

"So, for example, in the prosecutor's notice we are accused of engaging in political activity by, among other things, holding a picket each year on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and publishing information about this event: 'Studying the given materials allows us to conclude that the actions of the Organization were targeted at attracting the attention of government bodies and civil society, intended directly to create a negative public opinion for the purpose of influencing decision-making by government bodies, in other words, changing the policy of the government in the realm of criminal prosecution.' "

"Since neither the use of torture, nor the ineffective investigation of instances of torture, are government policy in our country, consequently, our actions cannot be directed at changing government policy. Therefore, without doubt, we shall lodge an appeal against this notice issued by the prosecutor of Nizhny Novgorod in the courts”, the Committee Against Torture has stated.

“If the outcome goes against us, our organization will be dissolved. However, we shall continue our human rights work. For us to work with the status of ‘foreign agent’ is unacceptable and insulting.”