On inspection for compliance with the rights of citizens in enforced detention in Penal Colony No. 6, Kopeisk (Federal Penitentiary Service for Chelyabinsk Region)
Date of inspection: 22 June 2013
Address of the institution: 20 Kemerovskaya Street, Kopeisk, 456612
Director of the institution: Lieutenant of Interior Service Dmitry Nikolaevich Gordov
Maximum number of detainees 1619 individuals; at the time of inspection there were 1534.
Members of the Independent Monitoring Commission Latypova D.A., Shchur N.A., Shchur T.M. inspected the institution from 11.20 until 13.50.
Purpose of the inspection – to inspect on site reports by media, relatives of prisoners and prisoners themselves about the situation in the penal colony:
A number of electronic media outlets reported that on the premises of the colony settlement one of the prisoners, in protest against the violation of his rights, had sewn up his mouth, and relatives of prisoners and prisoners themselves had the impression that the situation in the penal colony was on the verge of renewed disturbances: the administration of the colony had broken up the previous group of ‘active’ prisoners and had created a new group, with which it had made an unspoken agreement on co-existence, as a result of which the majority of prisoners were suffering.
RESULTS OF THE INSPECTION
List of places inspected: strict regime unit, punishment cell, penal colony.
The Commission notes the following:
1. An incident of self-mutilation had in fact occurred: one of the convicts currently serving a sentence in the penal colony, Yevgeny Shchelokov, had indeed sewn his mouth shut, and hence the reports to this effect on the Internet are true.
The colony’s administration made no attempt to cover up the incident, and showed the members of the Public Oversight Commission a report on the aforesaid self-mutilation.
Nevertheless, the incident requires in-depth verification by independent medical experts and representatives of the Investigative Committee, since there are substantial inconsistencies between the facts set out in the colony’s report and the information given to N. Shchur, a member of the Public Oversight Commission, by the convict Yevgeny Shchelokov during a face-to-face conversation: it is entirely possible that the report from the Main Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service for Chelyabinsk Region on the incident contains false information. Other public organisations should be involved in establishing the reasons behind this possible falsification and its purpose, for example the Commission of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council.
2. Reports by prisoners’ relatives claiming that prisoners from the colony are being “dispersed” also appear to be correct: a number of prisoners had been transferred out of the colony without being given any explanation of their procedural status, even though they were essentially moved from a strict detention regime to a prison regime without a court decision. This is a blatant infringement of their constitutional rights as enshrined in Articles 21, 22 and 50 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
3. It would require a major stretch of the imagination to claim that the situation in the colony is stable and under control: the stability of the colony’s administration is based not on any awareness on the part of the administration itself or the prisoners of what is right, or the need to observe the rules of conduct laid down in law (the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, international standards for the treatment of prisoners, the Penal Execution Code etc.), but on the conclusion of a verbal agreement between the new administration and the new so-called “activists” among prisoners, which can be referred to quite literally as “non-interference in internal matters”.
According to this agreement, the new “ ‘activists’ control the colony”, ensuring that the prisoners turn up for work, that they remain loyal to the administration and that they stop complaining to public prosecutors or human rights defenders, in return for which they are granted certain privileges in terms of their detention regime.
This was confirmed by observations made during the inspection. For example, prisoners met the members of the Public Oversight Commission in pairs (each watching the other to ensure that they did not say too much; in their own words, they attended the meetings in pairs “for safety reasons”), which is a direct indication that the colony is largely administered by “authorities” from among the prisoners themselves.
4. The situation in the colony is being “fuelled” by the Investigative Committee’s continuing silence in respect of its investigation into the events of 24‑25 November 2012. The removal of a large number of prisoners from the colony without any explanation regarding their procedural status has greatly unsettled those remaining in the colony. The fact that the investigation has still not resulted in any acknowledgement of the suffering of hundreds under the previous administration’s regime is an acute destabilising factor.
5. There are no seats in the colony’s punishment cells, which effectively provokes the prisoners detained there to break the rules.
Attitude of the colony’s administration to the Commission’s work
The colony’s administration, represented by the head of the colony, did not in any way obstruct the Commission’s activities.
Furthermore, the public prosecutors A. P. Yakovlev and A. V. Belomestnov unexpectedly accompanied the inspection (for a short time).
CONCLUSIONS OF THE COMMISSION
1. As regards the attitudes of staff and prisoners, the situation in IK-6 has not fundamentally changed: its stability is fragile and maintained only by operational measures based on an ideology which thoroughly contradicts the principles of human rights.
2. It remains likely that the events of 24‑25 November 2012 will be repeated.
The Investigative Commission’s continuing silence on the progress of the investigation is exacerbating the situation.
3. The constitutional rights of a number of prisoners have been seriously infringed, including their right to human dignity and to humane treatment.
4. The Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Chelyabinsk Region is not adequately monitoring the situation in IK-6.
Members of the Public Oversight Commission
26 June 2013
Public Oversight Commission
For conducting public oversight of compliance with human rights standards in places of enforced detention in Chelyabinsk region
45, Elkina Street, Chelyabinsk, 454000
Group of observers under the leadership of N. A. Shchur
(Latypova D.A., Prikhodkina V.Yu., Shchur N.A., Shchur T.M.)
Chelyabinsk regional public foundation for the support of democracy ‘Urals Democratic Foundation’
16-A, Ostrovsky Street, Chelyabinsk, 454008
Tel/Fax (351)7910522, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Human Rights Defenders of the Urals