On April 26, in Astana, High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova spoke at the Second Forum of the National Preventive Mechanism «Preventing torture through the joint efforts of national human rights institutions and the national preventive mechanism (NPM)».
Tatiana Moskalkova reported that by January 1, 2018, more than 602,000 citizens had been held in the institutions of the penitentiary system of the Russian Federation, 495,000 of whom had been serving sentences in penal colonies and 104,000 in detention facilities.
"At the same time, there has been a steady tendency to reduce the number of such citizens in recent years, due to the process of humanization in our country. Obviously, the basic rights of people serving sentences in places of detention, especially such fundamental ones as the right to life, respect for the dignity, medical care, labor rights must be strictly observed. In addition, this is the aim of all states and public institutions, which guarantee the rights of citizens in detention facilities," the High Commissioner noted.
In 2017, to quote Tatiana Moskalkova, she had received almost 42,000 appeals, 5,063 of this number had been received from detainees in the institutions of the penitentiary system, i.e. 12 per cent of the total. In general, the applicants complained about inadequate conditions of detention, poor medical service and failure of administration to transfer detainees to other penal colonies.
"934 appeals were received on the issues relating to early release in 2017 including 478 appeals on the issues concerning release on sickness," the Russian ombudswoman noted.
Tatiana Moskalkova also reported that the detainees had submitted 4,191 applications over the past year to the courts for release due to a serious illness. As a result, 2,341 detainees were released, 1,025 detainees were refused to be released, and 825 detainees died before the trial or until the court’s decision on their release came into force.
"I came up with the initiative of unconditional release from serving sentences of those who suffer from serious diseases according to the List approved by the Government. In addition, I am currently providing maintenance of a number of earlier legislative proposals," the High Commissioner emphasized.
In conclusion, Tatiana Moskalkova spoke about the effectiveness of the institution of public monitoring commissions and interaction with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The High Commissioner noted that the CPT included a representative of the Public Defender of Rights. This interaction allows identifying violations in detention facilities as well as preventing torture of detainees.