Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 16:06 GMT

Russia: The Observatory welcomes the release on parole of Mr. Aleksei Sokolov and calls for the end of judicial harassment against him

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 29 July 2011
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Russia: The Observatory welcomes the release on parole of Mr. Aleksei Sokolov and calls for the end of judicial harassment against him, 29 July 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e48d6e0c.html [accessed 21 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Paris-Geneva, July 29, 2011. 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), welcomes the release on parole of Mr. Aleksei Sokolov, Head of the organisation "Pravovaja osnova" (Legal Basis), which struggles against torture and ill-treatment of people in detention. The Observatory now calls for the end of judicial harassment against him.

On July 27, 2011, a court of Krasnoïasrk released Mr. Aleksei Sokolov on parole. The latter was arbitrarily detained since May 13, 2009, and had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment on May 13, 2010 by the Tribunal of Bogdanovitch, for alleged "larceny" and "robbery". On August 18, 2010, the Regional Court of Sverdlovsk had reduced the sentence to three years in prison, but had ordered that it be served in a high security colony, hundreds of kilometres away from his region of residence. Mr. Aleksei Sokolov was ill-treated and beaten several times while in detention.

In 2009 and 2010, numerous irregularities had occurred throughout the hearings of the trials, as reported by the two lawyers the Observatory had mandated in March and May 2010 to observe hearings before the Tribunal of Bogdanovich. The Observatory publishes today a judicial observation mission report following this mission.

"Since 2009, Aleksei Sokolov, who has been struggling for years against torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Russian prisons, was himself arbitrarily detained and ill-treated in prison. We are glad and relieved to see that he is free at last. We now hope that the case against him will be dropped in its entirety, as it manifestly aims at sanctioning his human rights activities", FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen said today.

"The case of Aleksei Sokolov amounts to criminalisation of human rights defenders. As he was fighting against torture, he was in turn accused of false crimes, condemned to arbitrary prison terms and subjected to torture. The authors of those violations benefit from impunity, all the more as the judiciary itself is directly accomplice in the violations he was victim of", added Eric Sottas, OMCT Secretary General.

The judicial observation mission report is available on the following web links:

FIDH: http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/obs_report_russia_sokolov.pdf

OMCT: http://www.omct.org/files/2011/07/21359/russia_mission_report_sokolov.pdf

In view of the conclusions of this report, the Observatory formulates recommendations to the Russian authorities, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

The Observatory calls upon the Russian authorities in particular to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Aleksei Sokolov as well as of human rights defenders in the country, and to put an end to all form of harassment – including at the judicial level – against them.

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