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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