UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Condemns Russian Government’s Cover-Up of Magnitsky Case

March 27, 2012

The UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Tor­ture Juan E. Mén­dez has unveiled the results of his review of Sergei Mag­nit­sky case. The UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur has called “unper­sua­sive” the Russ­ian government’s response to the tor­ture and in-custody death of 37-year old lawyer. The UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur stressed that in this case, Rus­sia is sub­jected to inter­na­tional oblig­a­tions under the UN Anti-torture Con­ven­tion and the UN Prin­ci­ples on Extrale­gal and Arbi­trary Exe­cu­tions which it has failed to com­ply with.

When an indi­vid­ual dies as a con­se­quence of injuries sus­tained while in State cus­tody, there is a
pre­sump­tion of State respon­si­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly when the per­son was in good health at the time of his arrest,” says the UN Report.

Russ­ian author­i­ties have refused to inves­ti­gate Mr Mag­nit­sky’ tor­ture in cus­tody claim­ing there is no evi­dence of it.

In the Mag­nit­sky case, attempts to present the cause of death as aris­ing from nat­ural causes is par­tic­u­larly unper­sua­sive given the med­ical records avail­able and the fact that urgent med­ical atten­tion was denied to him as his con­di­tion dete­ri­o­rated,” points out the UN Report.

The wide-ranging state cover-up since Mr Magnitsky’s death has lead to the “pat­tern of impunity” in this case. Two years and three months since the killing, the inves­ti­ga­tion of the case has been extended 11 times, no one has been pros­e­cuted, and the victim’s fam­ily itself has come under pres­sure from the authorities.

The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur is espe­cially con­cerned that, although offi­cials pre­sum­ably involved in Magnitsky’s arrest and treat­ment in deten­tion have been iden­ti­fied, their con­duct has not been prop­erly inves­ti­gated. Instead, Magnitsky’s rel­a­tives are being asked to con­tribute evi­dence or be por­trayed as not being inter­ested in the inves­ti­ga­tion,” says the UN Report.

The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur insists that tor­ture is such a seri­ous crime that it requires inves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion ex offi­cio under all cir­cum­stances,” says the UN Report.

The report draws upon Prin­ci­ple 9 of the UN Prin­ci­ples on the Effec­tive Pre­ven­tion and Inves­ti­ga­tion of Extra-legal, Arbi­trary and Sum­mary Exe­cu­tions, and Arti­cles 7 and 12 of the UN Con­ven­tion against Tor­ture requir­ing states to inves­ti­gate and pun­ish all acts of torture.

See Report by Juan E. Mén­dez, UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on tor­ture and other cruel, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment:


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