Urgent Interventions

Letter to the Investigative Committee

​Dear MrBastrykin,

Thisletter is sent on behalf the International Rehabilitation Council for TortureVictims (IRCT), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and REDRESS. Weare writing to you in relation to the ongoing process of establishing asubdivision within the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to investigate crimes committed by officers of law enforcementagencies.

Weare familiar with the work carried out by our Russian partner organisation, theInterregional Committee Against Torture, and their own partners in Russia, to ensure access to justice for persons who have been tortured orill-treated by law enforcement officers. In the face of persistent allegationsof torture and ill-treatment of persons in detention in Russia, we commend your recent initiative. Establishing a Subdivision, whichwill be solely focused on investigating complaints of crimes committed byofficers of law enforcement agencies, is a welcome first step in ensuring thatsuch investigations are prompt, independent, impartial and effective.

However,it is crucial that the structure, procedures, practical functioning, andquality control of the Subdivision’s work, promote an environment in whichinvestigations are truly prompt, independent, impartial and effective.

Inthis context, we would like to express our strong support for the proposalsmade by a group of Russian NGOs (Committee against Torture, Public VerdictFoundation, Agora, “GROZA” Movement, and Youth Human Rights Movement), which havebeen submitted to you. The proposals are based on the many years of experienceof the organisations involved and they are all important elements of ensuring thatthe Subdivision functions effectively. These include procedural control ofdecisions by the Subdivision not to initiate criminal proceedings; independentmonitoring of the Subdivision’s work; and the implementation of internationalstandards for effective investigation. We encourage you to ensure that theseproposals are fully implemented and that a broad range of relevant nationalNGOs are continuously involved in the process of establishing of theSubdivision and in the subsequent monitoring of its work.

TheIRCT, the OMCT and REDRESS have many years of experience of documenting andpursuing torture cases around the world. This experience has shown thatestablishing a system that ensures prompt, independent, impartial and effectiveinvestigations of torture, ill-treatment and other crimes committed by lawenforcement agencies is a continuous work in progress. The new body should betruly independent, which requires the absence of a hierarchical orinstitutional connection with the alleged perpetrators, both in itsinstitutional set-up and in practical terms. The body should also be sufficientlyresourced to conduct effective investigations in line with internationallyrecognised best practices, particularly the Istanbul Protocol on thedocumentation and investigation of torture, and be accessible for victims of violations.Setting up such an independent mechanism should assist the Russian Federation to begin the process of discharging its obligation under internationallaw to investigate torture and other serious human rights violations. The nextstep of course would be to ensure that the mechanism itself is allowed to, andfunctions in a way that, ensures that all credible allegations areappropriately followed up.

Wetherefore encourage the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to establish an independent monitoring mechanism, which will keep the workof the Subdivision under regular review and make the necessary adjustments toensure its continued effective functioning. The IRCT, the OMCT and REDRESS wouldalso like to take this opportunity to offer our expertise within the area oftorture documentation as well as standards and practices relating to theinvestigation of torture should this be needed in connection with theestablishment and development of the work of the Subdivision.


Brita Sydhoff

Secretary General, IRCT

Gerald Staberock

Secretary General, OMCT

Carla Ferstman

Director, Redress

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