Is the remand in custody of the “Ivanovo Uzbeks” to become indefinite?
A hearing is to take place on 5 March 2007 in the Ivanovo Regional Court on a civil suit lodged by lawyer Irina Sokolova. She is appealing against the refusal of the Octyabrsky District Court in Ivanovo to accept her complaint about the remand in custody of the “Ivanovo Uzbeks”.
Ms Sokolova has filed her civil suit in response to the inaction of a public official – the head of the Ivanovo SIZO -1 [remand centre] L. M. Deineki, who after the maximum allowed period of time for remand in custody elapsed in December 2006, refused to free her clients. In the judgment of the first instance court which is being appealed, it was stated that the given question should be reviewed within the framework of criminal procedure legislation.
It should be noted that a court ruling on choosing a preventive measure in the case of the “Ivanovo Uzbeks” was taken once only, in July 2005, nor was their remand extended in the legally prescribed manner. This is a flagrant violation of the Russian Federation Criminal Procedure Code (RF CPC) which strictly regulates procedure for choosing and extending the said preventive measures and prohibits their extension for a period of over 18 months.
On 4 April 2006 the Constitutional Court confirmed that this norm of the RF CPC also covers periods of detention in the case of people whose extradition has been requested.
In summer 2006, after 12 months had elapsed since the Uzbeks had been taken into custody, Ms Sokolova appealed against their illegal detention. Then, as now, the district courts in Ivanovo “fobbed off” her appeals, from criminal proceedings to civil, while the cassation panel of the Ivanovo Regional Court rejected them on absurd grounds. Their argument was that the RF CPC demands that unlawful actions (inaction) of public officials with regard to parties in criminal proceedings be appealed according to where the preliminary investigation took place.
Since there was no such investigation with regard to the claimants in the Russian Federation, an appeal against unlawful detention in custody within the framework of this norm could not be accepted. With regard to civil court proceedings, the release of individuals from custody is not regulated by this, but by criminal law.
The Ivanovo Regional Court thus demonstrated that there was a vicious circle and that it would seemingly be impossible to find justice in the given issue within the framework of Russian law.
Unlawful detention for an unspecified period and the effective lack of domestic remedies for appealing against the detention in the courts are significant violations of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as was stated in the applications from the “Ivanovo Uzbeks” to the European Court of Human Rights.
As reported, the Court in Strasbourg is in communication with the Russian Government over these applications and the Government is due to answer questions put by the Court by 6 March 2007. One of these questions concerns access to procedure allowing effective control at domestic level over the legality of holding people in custody.
Follow the links below for more information about the case of the “Ivanovo Uzbeks”.
Yelena Ryabinina is Head of the Program to assist political refugees from Central Asia of the Civic Assistance Committee