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The State Duma adopted a law toughening punishment for torture | News from Germany about Russia | DW

The State Duma of Russia in the third and final reading adopted amendments to the criminal code, introducing the concept of “torture” and toughening the punishment for their use. This is reported on the website. lower house of parliament on Wednesday, June 22.

The deputies approved amendments to the already existing articles on abuse of office (286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and on compulsion to testify (302 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). A new subject of the crime was added to the law – “a law enforcement officer.” “This will make it possible to hold accountable, including employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, and not just investigators or persons conducting inquiries, as provided for in the current version of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation,” the explanation on the Duma’s website says.

In addition, the law strengthens the punishment for torture organized or carried out by government officials. Such crimes are transferred to the category of especially serious and will now be punished by imprisonment for up to 12 years.

Torture will be considered “inaction” and “intimidation”

A provision was added to the article on abuse of power, for “exceeding official authority with the use of torture, negligently resulting in the death of the victim or causing grievous bodily harm to his health.” For this crime will face imprisonment for a period of 8 to 15 years.

The definition of the concept of “torture” in the law is taken from “conventionsagainst torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the statement on the website of the State Duma reads.

The purpose of torture includes intimidation or coercion of another person to commit any act under pain of torture. “Inaction” can also be qualified as torture, the authors of the initiative emphasize. “The fact that a person showed cowardice, turned a blind eye to what was happening, did not prevent torture and cruel, degrading treatment, did not protect the victims, did not provide assistance, should also be punished accordingly,” said Pavel Krasheninnikov, chairman of the Committee on State Building and Legislation.

Human rights activists criticized the amendments

After amending their criticism more than 30 Russian human rights activists and organizations spoke. The letter they signed stated that this version of the bill “contradicts legal logic.” Human rights activists urged to separate “torture” into a separate article of the Criminal Code.

“Torture” is not seen as an independent crime, but as the extreme severity of “exceeding official powers.” And, thus, the logic is offered that there is some kind of official authority, which contains the risks of turning into torture. However, Russian law enforcement agencies do not have such powers, and the use of this, in fact, a surrogate article of the Criminal Code now is a consequence of the hopelessness, “the letter said, which was signed, among other things,”Memorial”, “Committee Against Torture”, Fund “Public verdict” and Moscow Helsinki Group.

Investigation of the “torture conveyor” in Russian prisons

The media and human rights activists regularly report on torture in Russian colonies. The biggest resonance has received an investigation from the Gulagu.net project in recent years. In October 2021, human rights activists published a series of videos of torture and sexual violence from colonies in the Saratov region and from others Russian regions.

The video was provided to human rights activists by the programmer Sergey Savelyev, who was serving time in one of the colonies. The Investigative Committee announced the initiation of criminal cases following the results of the publication. In turn, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB of the Russian Federation put the Gulagu.net informant on the federal wanted list. Savelyev, who had applied for political asylum in France, was arrested in absentia in Russia on charges of illegal access to computer information and transferring it to third parties. November 2021 the arrest was lifted.

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