Jehovah's Witnesses rebut Russian government's denial of torture


Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, 21 March 2019


On 20 March 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) withdrew urgent provisional measures imposed in the case of threats to the life of an applicant. However the ending of such a threat, which permits the withdrawal of provisional measures, does not mean that the E.C.H.R. recognizes a failure to prove torture committed on 15 February 2019. The E.C.H.R. continues to consider the complaint of Sergei Loginov and other believers of the city of Surgut (Khanti-Mansi autonomous region) about the use of torture on them.


On 18 March 2019, the government of Russia, in its response to the E.C.H.R., referring to a medical examination that had been conducted, pointed out the absence of traumas that prevented keeping Sergei Loginov in custody. However, an independent medical examination looking for torture (examination of skin integuments by experts in the area of forensic medical expert analysis, psychological examination) involving the believer still had not been carried out.


The attorney for the believer petitioned for the conduct of an independent examination involving dermatologists and psychologists and other specialized experts who specialize in skin burns in order to find traces of the use of an electric shock device and the psychological consequences of torture. In response to this petition, the believer, who had been zapped with electric shock through wet fabric in order to minimize the appearance of burns on the body, was observed externally by a medic of the SIZO through the prison bars. Later, a consultation of a psychiatrist was arranged in order to find in Loginov psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile the defense did not doubt the lack of psychiatric disorders in him but it asked about finding psychological trauma from the use of torture. This Russia has not done.


On 5 March 2019, eighteen days after the torture, when traces from the burns caused by the electric shocks were indistinguishable, Loginov was examined in a Nizhnevartovsk regional hospital clinic to find the traumas preventing holding him in custody. At the same time, specialists in the sphere of the study of skin integuments and a psychologist still had not been involved in the examination.


In this way the Russian authorities substituted a medical conclusion about the general condition of Loginov's health for the demand that he be examined to find the use of torture. Believers are continuing to seek an investigation of what happened. (tr. by PDS, posted 22 March 2019)

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