Rights Group: Abuse Of Inmates Is Torture

A leading European human rights body has criticized Russia for the mistreatment of prisoners and detainees.

"Unfortunately, there have been severe forms of ill treatment that could be considered as amounting to torture," Latif Huseynov, a representative of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture, said Monday at a Moscow conference dedicated to preventing the torture of inmates.

On Monday, the committee concluded its 15th visit to Russia since its founding in 1990, visiting Udmurtia and the Arkhangelsk and Vologda regions, Huseynov said.

The CPT's reports on its visits presented to the governments of concerned states are as a rule "strictly confidential," but its public reports mean that "cooperation has broken," with the government of a concerned state, he said.

So far, the CPT has made only five public statements about the results of its visits, two in relation to Turkey and three in relation to Russia in 2001, 2003 and 2007, Huseynov said.

The CPT has urged Russia to openly discuss the three reports with Russian human rights bodies and nongovernmental organizations, but the Justice Ministry has made public only a part of the 2003 report, he said.

"We hope that Russian authorities will change their approach," Huseynov said.

Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin received about 1,000 complaints in 2007 about the use of torture in detention facilities, a senior official of Lukin's office, Yelena Sereda, said at the conference Monday.

"The most frequent" examples of police using torture against detainees were aimed at getting "coerced confessions," which could be explained by the need to "boost crime solving rates," she said.

Sereda said prosecuting acts of police torture against detainees was difficult because in most cases prosecutors rejected complaints about torture.

She mentioned poor quality food, lack of work and deprivation of medical treatment as other forms of torture, besides physical and psychological torture.

In one of the most scandalous recent examples, former Yukos executive Vasily Aleksanyan said he was denied AIDS treatment while in detention facing trial on embezzlement and money laundering charges because he had refused to cooperate with investigators.