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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.
Description of the situation:
According to the information received, on May 31, 2012, Mr. Rustam Matsev went to the police station of Nalchik where his client, Mr. Labazanov, was held in pre-trial detention. As his lawyer, he was there to assist Mr. Labazanov during his questioning by Mr. Phitikov, investigator of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in charge of the case. Mr. Labazanov had been kidnapped and beaten up by members of the security forces on February 10, 2012. He was then improperly charged with carrying explosive devices, on the basis of Article 222 of the Russian Criminal Code.
While Mr. Matsev was waiting for Mr. Labazanov to be questioned, Mr. Zavyalikov, a criminal police officer, started to accuse Mr. Matsev of having encouraged his client to lie about his kidnapping in his previous statements. Mr. Matsev reminded Mr. Zavyalikov that the very work of a lawyer was to provide legal assistance.
Mr. Zavyalikov also questioned Mr. Matsev about his personal life and asked him among others if he was wearing underwear. He also threatened him by stating that Mr. Matsev was being watched by police officers and advised him to be careful.
Mr. Zavyalikov subsequently tried to pressure Mr. Matsev into compelling his client to plead guilty, and to accept a deal with the prosecution. As Mr. Matsev refused to follow Mr. Zavyalikov’s demands, the latter tried himself to put pressure on Mr. Labazanov during the questioning led by Mr. Phitikov.
Following these threats, Mr. Matsev addressed a statement on June 1, 2012 to the General Attorney of the Russian Federation, to the Prosecutor of the Republic of Kabardino – Balkaria, and to other judicial and civil society authorities, requesting that criminal charges be brought against Mr. Zavyalikov. Mr. Matsev also asked the Prosecutor to open an investigation into these threats, under Articles 144 and 145 of the Russian Criminal Code. However, no information could be obtained as to whether any investigation was opened as of issuing this urgent appeal.
The Observatory strongly condemns these acts of intimidation against Mr. Matsev, and fears that they aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and in particular the legal assistance he provided as a human rights lawyer.
The Observatory recalls that according to Principle 8 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, “All arrested, detained or imprisoned persons shall be provided with adequate opportunities, time and facilities to be visited by and to communicate and consult with a lawyer, without delay, interception or censorship”.
Please write to the authorities of the Russian Federation, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Matsev as well as of all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;
ii. Carry out a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Matsev as well as against all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iv. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:
its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
and Article 12.2, which provides that “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”;
v. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the protection of human rights defenders and the promotion of their activities, and in particular with Article 2.i), in which the Committee calls on member States to “create an environment conducive to the work of human rights defenders, enabling individuals, groups and associations to freely carry out activities, on a legal basis, consistent with international standards, to promote and strive for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any restrictions other than those authorised by the European Convention on Human Rights;
vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.
· Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Ilinka Str, 23, Moscow, 103132, Moscow, Russian Federation, Faxes:+ 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408
· Mr. Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of the Interior, Ulitsa Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 495 637 49 25
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, 32/34, 121200 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Fax:+ 7 495 644 2203
· Mr. Alexander Gennadievich Khloponin, Representative of the President in North Caucasus federal region, Tel: +7793) 97-34-67
· Mr. Vladimir Lukin, Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Tel: +7 495 607-19-22 / 607-34-67, E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. Michail Fedotov, Head of the Council under the President for development of civil society and human rights, Tel: +7 495 606-41-84,Fax: +7 495 606-48-55; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; fedotov_MA@gov.ru
· Mr. Alexander Ivanovich Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigations Committee of the Russian Federation, Building 28, house 15, Naberezhnaya Akademika Tupoleva, Moscow, 105005, Russia, Tel: + 7 495 640 10 48
· H.E. Mr. Alexey Borodavkin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, E-mail : email@example.com, Fax: +41 22 734 40 44
· Ambassador Mr. Alexandra Romanov, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 66, avenue de Fre, Brussels, 1180 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, June 19, 2012
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29