Human rights activists oppose granting greater powers to prison officers

posted 8 Jun 2015, 05:17 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 Jun 2015, 05:23 ]
3 June 2015

Source: (info)
The human rights community has prepared a package of anti-torture corrections to a draft law, drafted by the government, which would allow the prison service a wider use of physical force and special measures in relation to prisoners, OVD-Info reports, citing Nezavisimaya gazeta.

The government’s draft law envisages a significant increase in the powers of officers of the prison service as regards the use of force. If the changes become law, it will, for example, be possible to use force even when the offences are insignificant, such as smoking in a prohibited area or refusing to do exercises, while, as an educational measure, electric-shock treatment will be permissible.

In response to this toughening of sanctions against prisoners, the human rights activists have produced their own initiative.

In particular, they propose that the director of a prison colony should be bound to report to the local prosecutor and representatives of the Public Oversight Commission (POC) ‘in each case where physical force or special measures are used’. For the using of any kind of forceful constraint ‘which does not threaten the life or the health of the convicted individual, or if threatening to employ forceful constraint’, the activists propose a prison sentence of up to five years. If the individual’s life or health is at risk – the sentence should be from seven to twelve years. In a separate point the activists propose the prohibition of using electric shocks on the grounds that today prisoners are not tested for cardio-vascular problems.

Among the anti-torture measures there is also a proposal to introduce criminal liability for directors of prison colonies and investigators who fail to disclose cases of beating prisoners, or the setting up of so-called ‘discipline and order blocks’, and also of extorting money in pre-trial detention or in prison.

The activists have forwarded their letter to the Duma with the request not to pass the law in its present form and, as a beginning, to hold a round table discussion with public figures and members of the Public Oversight Commissions.

Translated by Mary McAuley