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Valery Borshchev: Public Oversight Commissions mark first five years

posted 22 Feb 2014, 05:04 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 24 Feb 2014, 14:00 ]
18 February 2014

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

Public Oversight Commissions mark their first five years since their creation, OTR reports. During this time human rights defenders have established regular oversight over the condition of prisons. The situation in pre-trial detention centres has improved somewhat, although in many penal colonies bad treatment of inmates continues.

Lawyers report new instances of violence against inmates, this time in the holding-rooms of courts. This is where police officers bring defendants at the start of a trial. Under the law, human rights defenders do not have access to defendants at this stage.

Representatives of the Public Oversight Commissions have submitted a complaint to the Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokol’tsev. But on the whole, the number of deaths in Russian remand centres has been reduced.

“Thanks to the Public Oversight Commissions, especially in Moscow – where we have made this the main focus of our work – the number of deaths has significantly fallen. If Magnitsky was the 57th death of a total of 61 deaths in 2009, last year 36 detainees died in remand centres. This is a significant reduction which has come about because we have begun to exercise public oversight over these places,” said Valery Borshchev, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, who heads the working group on law enforcement agencies of the council of experts of the federal human rights ombudsman.

At present the Public Oversight Commissions are working to combat abuses among their members. Some members of Commissions have sought to turn their activities into sources of income, and this contradicts the main principles of their work.