On January 23d me as Public Monitoring Committee member together with my colleagues visited correctional facilities, in particular penal colony № 2 and pre trial detention center -1 in Yekaterinburg.
We are shocked what we see. In the center of big city of Russia were human rights and freedoms are supposed to be highly valued but on contrary in this city occur tortures and law violations.
I’ll tell in order.
Penal colony № 2:
We went there to help out human rights defender from Chelyabinsk region, member of Public Monitoring Committee to meet with her convict she protects. This prisoner was transferred from colony № 6 of Kopeysk after riots in there. Protesting against actions of Investigation Committee he swallowed 20 blades. However colony chief refused to admit defender in, because she is a member of another region. All power of attorneys were confirmed.
Then another reason was made up that convict feels bad after self harm and it’s impossible to visit him upon medical requirements; decision should be made by doctor. After we called doctor who said we can’t visit him.
As a result defender wasn’t allowed in despite of article 48 of Constitution which guarantees a right of legal help for everyone, according to article 56, part 3 this rights cannot be deprived.
But Constitution during 20 years went «rot» and this violation happens every day.
Some members and me have inspected this colony. Visited convict. Mood and health are good. We brought news for him that his claim to European Court of human rights is being examined and soon will be communicated to Russia. In front of me I saw not a criminal but Human. I know why he is detained. But it doesn’t’t matter. I know for sure: none crime can justify another crime: humiliation and destruction of humans.
Pre trial detention center -1:
Everything was much scarier in center -1. My colleague wanted to visit juvenile offenders and one convict more. We went to cell № 119 where juvie are detained but it was empty. When asked where they are, officer answered they were transferred to juvenile colony.
We went to cell № 115 and looked through inspection window. There were those «juvie»; they were not transferred. Officers just lied us. So we demanded to open up cell; rejection. There presented chief deputy, medical department chief, psychiatrist and some officers.
Refusal was motivated by the end of working day (it was about 5 pm). However one minute ago we were in another cell without any problems. Then officers said that juveniles are mentally ill and there is no way to unlock this cell without a doctor, he already left.
We demanded doctor to come over. Then they said they again can’t do it because it violates doctor-patient confidentiality. But members have a right to get familiar with medical papers of inmates. How can it violate confidentiality?
Then officers of pre trial detention center made up new reason that everything is up to the chief of colony. So we demanded to bring the chief and made it clear we are going nowhere if they don’t open up the door.
We’ve been waiting for one hour and all the time we looked through this window. We saw that there are 3 people in cell who lied down with tied hands up.
The chief of medical department said they are mentally ill and according to law they are allowed to apply special medicine.
My colleague was afraid that they could be injected with psychoactive drugs.
One hour later the chief came up and let us open the cell. We could better see those inmates. Two of them are young; they have been lying since morning.
We asked if they got any injections, yes they did.
The chief of medical department said it was only sedative because they were aggressive. After we went to cell № 232. I was shocked. When opened the door I saw standing crowd. It was tight, stuffy and hot inside. There were either young or old ones. I remember one old man. They just stood like in crowded bus. Area is 30 sq. meters, but 28 inmates! It means one has 1 sq. meter of space but it’s supposed to be 4 sq.m. No place to sit. No sleeping places. Limit is 1791 inmates, in fact there are 2774. One thousand more!
As reference: pre trial detention center -1 was built up in 19 century.
Afterwards we went straight to the chief and wrote our complaints and violations in the course of inspections. There was the chief deputy and he was nervous. For law breaks before he got disciplinary penalty and the chief put a question about incompetency; he might be fired.
I noticed the following paradox. It’s obvious complete breakdown of law and order, humans are humiliated, health and life are in danger, BUT prison authorities plead a statute. Every illegal action is justified by «care» about prisoners.
According to Constitution and Convention of Human Rights these fundamental rights cannot be deprived and nothing can justify its violence.
If pre trial detention center chronically goes beyond the limit there is necessity to build up new centers or prosecute only dangerous criminals. The chief of center said that for example in the USA if there is no room for arrested, officers don’t detain him. It seems it’s fair and should be applied in Russia.
Why Olympiad is with highest priority and human rights defense no? Country want to enhance prestige in international arena? But Olympiad doesn’t help with this goal. As for human defense right helps to work it on. Then we might say it loudly: «Look we respect convicts’ rights!».
Then all the rest would stop criticizing Russia. Russia would look dignified compared to other countries. Hopefully we would have more worthy people. Convicts’ rights defense are resulted in high humans’ defense.
Either way Public Monitoring Committee keeps working and situation is changing for the better even slowly but works.
member of Public Monitoring Committee.