The Public Verdict Foundation* and the Committee Against Torture have created an alternative bill against torture. The State Duma had adopted its own bill on adding greater punitive measures for this act in the first reading. But, according to the human rights activists, it may be dangerous because it does not single out torture as a separate crime. Representatives of the Public Verdict* and the Committee Against Torture reported this to 7x7 on February 21.
The Committee Against Torture and the Public Verdict Foundation* has proposed that the State Duma review their bill against torture. The human rights activists told 7x7 that they consider the bill of senators Andrei Klishas, Vladimir Poletaev and State Duma deputy Pavel Krasheninnikov dangerous and "useless". In their opinion, the senators have not singled out torture as a separate crime, but regarded it as an extreme abuse of office. According to lawyers, the bill does not provide for liability for those who give the order to torture people and does not define the severity (for example, if it is a gang or brutal crime).
"Another drawback of the bill by Krasheninnikov, Klishas and Poletaev is the duplication of crime bodies, when essentially the same crime falls within the scope of different articles. It is specified that Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation [article on abuse of office] will continue to apply. This means that law enforcement officers will have a convenient way to continue working as they are used to," the lawyers said.
The human rights advocates proposed considering torture as a separate crime and taking the severity into account. According to the lawyers, the punishment for criminals should be from 3 to 20 years in prison, depending on the severity. In addition, the human rights activists want to eliminate the limitation period for torture and hold all those involved in it liable.
The bill of the Public Verdict* and the Committee Against Torture* is the third initiative on adding greater punitive measures for torture in the last three months already. Klishas, Poletaev and Krasheninnikov brought the first draft on December 20, 2021. They suggested adding greater punitive measures under the article on abuse of office (Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) for a term of 4 to 12 years, with a ban on holding certain positions for up to 10 years.
In addition, they introduced a new subject of the crime — a law enforcement officer — into the article on compulsion to give evidence (Article 302 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). According to the senators and the deputy, this will help hold the Federal Penitentiary Service's employees, rather than investigators and participants of the inquest only, liable. The State Duma adopted the bill in the first reading on February 16.
Another bill was sent to the floor by member of the Federation Council Lyudmila Narusova on February 14. She, as well as the human rights advocates, proposed considering torture as a separate crime and adding greater punitive measures for it — from 5 to 15 years in prison, provided that weapons and peculiar ferocity are involved. In addition, Narusova believes that considering testimony obtained during torture as reliable should be prohibited. The State Duma rejected the draft of the Federation Council's member on February 21, because it contained no reviews of the government and the Supreme Court.