Vous trouverez ci-dessous l’ensemble des prises de postion concernant l’affaire d’Alexeï Sokolov :

21 janvier 2010

URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

New Information

RUS 005 / 0509 / OBS 080.4

Assaults / Threats /

Ongoing arbitrary detention

Russian Federation

January 21, 2010

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

New Information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the repeated assaults committed against Mr. Alexei Sokolov, Head of the organisation “Pravovaja osnova” (Legal Basis), which struggles against torture and ill-treatment of people in detention, as well as a member of a civic supervisory committee on places of detention appointed by the Russian Parliament[1], while in arbitrary detention.

According to the information received, on January 18, 2010, Mr. Alexei Sokolov was transferred to the Soukhoi Log detention centre, where he was assaulted by his new cell mate, who hit him hard in the jaw and threatened him as follows: “We already warned you, but you still don’t understand”. This cell mate is one of those responsible for the re-opening of the investigation against Mr. Sokolov on April 23, 2009 (see background information). The Director of the detention centre ordered that Mr. Sokolov’s jaw be examined at the hospital.

Mr. Sokolov’s transfer to the Soukhoi Log detention centre occurred after the latter was assaulted on January 17 by Mr. Golovine – his cell mate at the Kamychlov detention centre – who threw boiling water at Mr. Sokolov before attacking him. Officials stood behind the door without intervening. One of them finally entered the cell, and shouted to his colleagues: “Sokolov attacked a co-detainee and is beating another one”. Mr. Golovine had been transferred into Mr. Sokolov’s cell on January 14 and had been provoking him since then.

The Observatory was also informed that on January 6, 2010, Mr. Sokolov’s wife, Ms. Gouzal Sokolova, was subjected to pressure by officials of Kamychlov detention centre who attempted to force her to sign a statement recognising she had committed an administrative infraction. As Ms. Sokolova refused to comply, she was no longer allowed to see her husband.

A hearing in the trial against Mr. Sokolov was due to take place on January 19, 2010 before the Tribunal of the City of Bogdanovitch, but was postponed to January 25, 2010 due to the attacks sustained by Mr. Sokolov.

The Observatory recalls that on December 23, 2009, in an hearing held in camera, the Bogdanovitch Court had ordered Mr. Aleksei Sokolov to be remanded in custody until March 9, 2010. Mr. Sokolov is facing charges of “robbery with violence” and “theft committed on a large scale” (Articles 162 and 158 Sec. 3b of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the repeated assaults and acts of harassment committed against Mr. Aleksei Sokolov and the irregularities occurred in the framework of his detention, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and calls upon the Russian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

The Observatory recalls that according to OP 2(iv.) of the Council of Europe (CoE) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders[2], member-States shall “take effective measures to prevent attacks on or harassment of human rights defenders”. The Observatory also calls upon the Commissioner for Human Rights of the CoE to act in accordance with operative paragraph 4 of the CoE Declaration on Human Rights Defenders with regards to this situation.

The Observatory further urges the European Commission Delegation as well as European Union (EU) Member-States embassies in the Russian Federation to call upon the Russian authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards and take action on this situation, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

The Observatory finally recalls that as a participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Russian Federation acknowledges that “the [1998] UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders [… places] a responsibility […] on States to adopt and implement adequate legislation and administrative procedures that would provide for a conducive environment for human rights defenders to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and recognises “the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”[3].

Background information:

On May 13, 2009, Mr. Aleksei Sokolov was violently arrested by plain clothes police officers who beat him, pushed him on the ground and handcuffed him in the courtyard of his flat, located in the city of Yekaterinburg. Mr. Sokolov was with his two-year old daughter at the time of the facts. His wife rapidly joined the scene and was also mishandled by the police. The officers then pushed Mr. Sokolov in a car and drove away. Mr. Sokolov was detained for having allegedly taken part to the robbery in 2004 of the equipment (of a value of 1.5 million roubles) of the company « Uraltermosvar », in Bogdanovich, Sverdlovsk district.

On April 23, 2009, the investigation in this case was indeed re-opened (after being closed several times for failure to identify a suspect) after a suspect, in jail for having committed another crime, would have allegedly confessed having committed the 2004 robbery with Mr. Sokolov. Russian law provides for a maximum of ten days of detention for criminal suspects.

On May 14, 2009, a court in Yekaterinburg ordered his detention until May 24, but no information could be obtained as to his place of detention. The judge added that Mr. Sokolov’s monitoring activities granted him a privileged access to places of detention and would therefore have enabled him to visit detainees, including the above-mentioned suspect whose declarations led to the re-opening of the investigation, and whom Mr. Sokolov could persuade, according to the judge, to withdraw his statement. Mr. Sokolov told his lawyer that he was subjected to explicit threats of torture in the framework of his detention, and reported marks caused by handcuffs on Mr. Sokolov’s wrists.

On July 31, 2009, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court ruled that Mr. Sokolov should be discharged from pre-trial detention. However, Mr. Sokolov was re-arrested on the same day (July 31), on suspicion of another theft committed in 2004. He is now accused of stealing a safe containing two million rubles from the office of a company in Ekaterinburg, within an organised group that would have been led by his brother, Mr. Aleksander Sokolov. The latter was sentenced in 2008 to ten years and a half in prison for a series of burglaries.

On August 4, 2009, the Yekaterinburg District Court ordered that Mr. Aleksei Sokolov be remanded in custody for two months, pending trial for the new charges of “theft”. Although the hearing should have been open to public, guards prevented people from attending the trial, which lasted three hours.

On October 12, food, clean trash bags and a spoon brought to him were confiscated by the prison administration. On October 16 and 20, the two lights of his cell blew and were not replaced, thus leaving Mr. Sokolov in the dark.

On October 21, 2009, the Yekaterinburg District Court ordered that Mr. Aleksei Sokolov be again remanded in custody until November 6, 2009. The hearing was held in camera, and Mr. Sokolov’s wife was denied access to the court room. A remand until October 23 had already been ordered by the same Court on September 29. Mr. Sokolov’s lawyer reported in particular that all the requests made by his client (public character of the hearing, getting copies of the documents of the case, admission of Mr. Vladimir Chaklin as his co-defender) had been rejected by Judge Pichulin.

The Observatory was further informed that the documents manually drafted by Mr. Sokolov in the framework of his detention in order to prepare his discussions with his lawyer have been consistently confiscated by the prison guards, thus violating his right to defend himself, as provided by the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.

On November 2, 2009, to justify the continuation of the detention, the authorities put forward a decision issued from the instructing judge of the Leninski District Court who decided to send the case to the Bogdanovitchv District Court for further examination on the merits. Mr. Sokolov’s lawyer appealed against the November 2 decision, challenging the competence of the jurisdiction and reaffirming the illegal character of the continuation of the detention.

On November 18, 2009, a hearing in the appeal against the November 2 decision took place before the Sverdlovsk Regional Court, which decided to postpone the examination of the case to November 25, 2009. The hearing was opened to public and representatives from the consulates of France, Germany and the United States of America attended the trial. On November 25, 2009, the Sverdlovsk Regional Court ordered that Mr. Aleksei Sokolov be again remanded in custody until December 25, 2009.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of the Russian Federation to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Aleksei Sokolov, as well as all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

ii. Release Mr. Aleksei Sokolov immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities;

iii. Carry out prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the above-mentioned events, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring all those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Aleksei Sokolov as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they be able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as with Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);

vi. Comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and uphold in all circumstances the principles and provisions enshrined in the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation and which, in particular, guarantee freedoms of association, demonstration, expression and opinion, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

vii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Dmitri Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, Kremlin, Moscow, Russian Federation, Faxes:+ 7 095 206 5173 / 230 2408
  • Mr. Yuriy Chaika, General Public Prosecutor of Russian Federation, 125993, Moscow, GSP-3, 15a B. Dimitrovka str. Russian Federation, Fax: +7 495 692-96-00 / +7 495 692 1725
  • Chairwoman of the Presidential Human Rights Commission of the Russian Federation, Ms. Ella Pamfilova, 103132 g. Moskva, Staraya ploshchad, d 8/5,pod 3, Russian Federation, Fax:+70952064855
  • Mr. Vladimir Lukin, Russian Federal Ombudsman for Human Rights, Fax: +7 495 207 3969 / +7 495 207-53-37
  • Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Rashid Nurgaliev, ul. Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 095 237 49 25
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, 32/34, 121200 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Fax:+ 7 095 244 2203
  • Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva Av. de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, e-mail : mission.russian@ties.itu.int, Fax: +4122 734 40 44
  • Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 31-33 boulevard du Régent, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 513 76 49.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, January 21, 2010

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply. The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • · E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • · Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
  • · Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] Mr. Sokolov is also known throughout Russia for releasing a movie in 2007, entitled “Factory of torture”, which relates the existence of trainings of officials to interrogation techniques on prisoners, in Sverdlovsk district.

[2] See Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for enhanced protection of human rights defenders, adopted on February 6, 2008.

[3] See OP 6 & OP 8 of the Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on July 10, 2007.

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