Revised bill on use of force in prisons

Revised version of a Bill governing the use of force in pre-detention centres and prisons in the pipeline


Moscow, 18.11.2015

According to reports in Vedomosti, a revised text of the Bill on the use of force in pre-detention centres and prisons should be completed by 30 November and will take account of a number of proposals put forward by the human rights community for strict control of the use of riot control weapons. Duma deputies had already approved the Bill during its first reading, although the Parliament’s version did not include changes previously agreed with the human rights community.

The new version of the Bill has been put together by a working group comprising human rights activists, as well as representatives from the Federal Prison Service (FPS) and Interior and Justice Ministries. The text also contains stricter controls on the use of riot control weapons, said Valentin Gefter, Director of the Institute of Human Rights, in an interview with Vedomosti. Gefter also said that the text will not include any provisions that authorise the use of such weapons to deal with breaches of prison rules.

Human rights activists have managed to reach agreement on what’s meant by an “illegal order”, with which prisoners will not be forced to comply, as well as specifying in the Bill that riot control methods can only be employed if all other peaceful avenues have been exhausted, and then only in response to a specific offence.

According to Maria Kannabich, a member of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC), there could still be a version of the Bill that both safeguards prisoners’ interests and satisfies the concerns of the FPS.

In June this year, the HRC held a special meeting during which human rights activists criticised the Bill, saying that it included vague wording that could result in human rights violations.

Author: Georgy Ivanushkin

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