“It needs some revision”: shortcomings in draft bills on torture
Yesterday the State Duma introduced an alternative draft bill on torture.
On 14 February ‘RIA Novosti’ reported that senator Lyudmila Narusova had introduced a packet of draft legislation.
The legislation intends to introduce a new article to Russia’s Criminal Code – Article 286.2 ‘On torture’.
In cases of torture committed with weapons or specialised devices, or in particularly violent cases, sentences of between five and 15 years are proposed by the bill.
The draft bill likewise proposes to dismiss any evidence obtained from a person under conditions classified as torture.
Torture, according to the draft bill, refers to “any act of physical pain or suffering, whether physical or emotional, done to a person with the intent of acquiring information or a confession from that person or a third party, or punishing a person for an act committed by that person or a third party, or for any reason arising from any sort of discrimination.”
This bill is an alternative to another draft bill prepared and introduced in the State Duma by senators Andrey Klishas, Vladimir Poletaev, and Deputy Pavel Krasheninnikov.
This other legislation does not propose a separate article on torture, but amendments to existing articles, Article 286 ‘On abuses of power’ and Article 302 ‘On forced confessions’.
The Committee Against Torture does not consider that the draft bill proposed by Klishas would eradicate torture as a practice in Russia or bring perpetrators to justice. This position has been supported by the signatures of dozens of human rights activist and organisations.
A better alternative
The head of the analysis department at the Committee Against Torture, Dmitry Kazakov, believes that Narusova’s draft bill is better than that of Klishas and Krasheninnikov, as it proposes a separate article.
“However, the senator’s bill is focused only on torture and doesn’t involve other forms of violent, inhumane or humiliating behaviour. Some of the acts which don’t fall under the new article will come under the old article 286, as they do now, so there won’t be a single unified legislative act,” said Kazakov.
According to him, Narusova’s draft bill does not give a definition of persons acting in an official capacity, although they are taken into consideration as the victims of torture.
“In general, this draft bill is better, but it needs some revision.
But, unfortunately, the prospects of a draft bill are determined not by its quality but by how many backers it has from different departments.
My impression is that the draft bill introduced in December 2021 deals with the issues much better,” he said.