The Constitutional Court dismissed the complaints of human rights defenders against the prohibition to speak with the inmates of the pre-trial detention center about the torture they were subjected to outside the detention center

The Russian Constitutional Court dismissed complaints from three former and current members of the Public Monitoring Commission of Moscow and St. Petersburg, Yevgeny Yenikeyev, Yana Teplitskaya and Roman Shirshov, against the interference of FSIN officers in conversations with prisoners in pre-trial detention centers. This was reported by Kommersant.

In October, POC members appealed to the Constitutional Court and demanded that the norms of the laws on guards and public control, which allow employees of the pre-trial detention center to interrupt the conversations of human rights defenders and prisoners, if “the subject of the conversation has nothing to do with the conditions of detention”, violate the Constitution.

The first complaint is based on a dispute with employees of the Lefortovo detention center over a visit by members of the Moscow POC in 2019 to prisoner Fakhrajon Nozimov, one of the defendants in the case of an attempt to arrange the Sapsan train derailment in 2017. Then the SIZO officer interrupted Nozimov’s conversation with human rights activists after he  began to tell how injuries appeared on his body.

The reason for the second complaint was a similar situation in the St. Petersburg SIZO “Kresty”: when the defendant in the case of the terrorist attack in the St. Petersburg metro, Abror Azimov, complained to human rights defenders about the abduction and torture prior to formal detention, their conversation was interrupted.

As a result, the Constitutional Court determined that the POC members interpret the laws “subjectively” and “abstractly”, and the very ban on speaking with prisoners about torture outside the pre-trial detention center does not violate the “subjective constitutional rights” of human rights defenders.

Lawyer Grigory Vaipan, who accompanied the appeal to the Constitutional Court, is now going to ask the State Duma, the Federation Council and regional legislative assemblies to repeat the complaints of human rights defenders. The court considered that the applicants raised the issue of  abstract regulation and a new appeal should be submitted by those who have such a right, he explained.

The norms according to which prison staff can interrupt the conversation of prisoners with members of the PMC were adopted in 2018. Then they were criticized by human rights activists. In particular, the presidential Human Rights Council considered that this measure could lead to silence on torture.

In total, according to Grigory Vaypan, the problem with the ban on talking about torture in the pre-trial detention center concerns more than 100 thousand prisoners. Alexey Melnikov, executive secretary of the Moscow POC, believes that the lawyer “greatly exaggerates the problem.”

POC members do not approve of their colleagues who are suing the FSIN and draw “unnecessary” attention to the problems, said a Kommersant source in the system of supervisory commissions. “Many employees of regional pre-trial detention centers do not know the current laws at all and, accordingly, do not interrupt conversations when human rights activists ask about something that does not concern the conditions of detention,” he explained

(C)MEDUZA 2021.

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