Rights activists mount picket against “Sadists’ Law” (with photographs)

posted 8 Jun 2015, 04:39 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Jun 2015, 04:57 ]
29 May 2015

Source: HRO.org (info
On 29 May 2015 Russian human rights activists Liudmila Alekseyevna, Sergei Kovalev, Lev Ponomarev, Valery Borshchev held a series of individual pickets outside the State Duma protesting against the introduction of a bill which essentially allows wider use of physical force against prisoners. Participants in the demonstration regard the bill as a “law for sadists.” The Kasparov.ru correspondent reports from the scene of the events.

The bill introduced by the Russian government proposes the legalisation of physical violence against prisoners, for example, in cases where they violate the prison regime. According to the existing rules, ‘violation of the regime’ is often a situation when a prisoner lies on their bed during the day, or does not greet an official of the FSIN (Federal Prison Service).

Physical force is similarly proposed to be used to ‘overcome resistance to lawful demands’ of prison officers. In particular, cases are specified when employees of the FSIN are permitted to use special batons, gas, light and acoustic methods, electric shock and light shock appliances, guard dogs, methods of preventing a prisoner from moving, water cannon and armoured vehicles.

In the event of adoption, the bill will also do away with the current norm by which the use of water cannon and armoured vehicles is possible only on the order of the officer in charge of the penitentiary establishment of their deputy with the “subsequent notification of the prosecutor in the course of 24 hours from the moment of its use.” The bill merely restricts the application of water cannon where the air temperature is below zero Celsius.

In accordance with the bill employees of prison institutions are not to be held accountable for damage caused to the accused by the use of physical force, special measures or firearms, if this has arisen on legal grounds.

Valery Borshchev remarked that this law contradicts international law, which clearly forbids torture and beating prisoners. Borshchev believes that people in the presidential administration should be afraid of this law insofar as “what they will get will be a structure that will be a law unto itself and will be outside the control of the law.” And they should fear this, “not because they are afraid of violations of human rights, but because they need to be able to control these authorities. But this law will create an uncontrollable structure. And there are enormous possibilities for lawlessness,” he remarked.

Lev Ponomarev, in turn, remarked that the bill had not undergone a review by the human rights ombudsman, but had been suddenly introduced to the surprise of everyone.

Sergei Kovalev is certain that the law is needed in the legalisation of arbitrary behaviour by the authorities. He gave examples: if the bill is accepted, prison officers will be able to beat a prisoner for refusing to take their hat off before a prison officer, or for going out onto the porch of the barracks in slippers. He described the law as “following in the traditions of the GULAG”.

Liudmila Alekseeva refused to comment on the law to journalists, explaining that if she did so the police could take her away on the grounds that the picket no longer consisted of one person only.

Photos (from above, then left to right): Liudmila Alekseeva, Liudmila Alekseeva, Sergei Kovalev, Valery Borshchev, Lev Ponomarev

Photos: Aleksei Bachinsky
Photo of Liudmila Alekseeva: A. Zotova

Source: Facebook page of Kasparov.ru 

Translated by Frances Robson