Expert speaks about principles of torture investigation
Expert on the prison system, lawyer Pavel Sapelka prepared an analytical report which summarizes the provisions of the existing international instruments to effectively investigate torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as legal regulations and medical ethics in relation to this problem.
"Despite the fact that international standards of human rights and international humanitarian law consistently prohibit torture under any circumstances, torture and ill-treatment is practiced in more than in a half of the world. This striking discrepancy between an absolute prohibition of torture and widespread expansion in the world today suggests that states need to define and put into practice effective measures to protect people from torture and ill-treatment." Formulating the essence of this large-scale problem, the author analyzes such a founding document as the Istanbul Protocol - a guide that was the result of three years of analysis, research and editorial work of more than 75 experts in law, medicine and human rights, representing 40 organizations and institutions from 15 countries.
According to the expert, the Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel , Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol as it is) is very useful for law enforcement officers, medics, human rights activists, and ordinary people:
“It is useful in that allows you to understand that you need to specify the concept of "torture " and "cruel or inhuman treatment ", because we are used to call some forms of treatment “cruel”. For example, placing a person in solitary confinement or prolonged immobilization of the individual actually causes significant suffering, but may not be perceived as abuse in the general domestic practice.”
Pavel Sapelka also separately considers ethical standards for the treatment of prisoners in
the spheres of law and health:
“Istanbul Protocol pays a great attention to liability if medics for the performance of their duties , which again is very important in conditions of Belarus, because we are used to the fact that a case of inhuman, cruel treatment it is a conflict between the victim and the bodies of internal affairs or the prison colony. And we forget that there is a third side – medics, without abuse by which, perhaps, ill-treatment would not have happened. Anyway, the case swould be better and timely investigated if the medics gave their assistance.
The third aspect the lawyer points at is the list of methods in the Istanbul Protocol fixing various kinds of ill-treatment, which will allow further properly investigate cases of abuse. In addition, this manual gives hope to those in respect of which the abuse was used in the form which leaves no residue.
“We Already have international experience of investigation of cases of implicit cases of cruel treatment, search of implicit signs of torture such as electric shocks, which leaves marks on the cerebral cortex,” stated Pavel Sapelka..
When preparing the analytical note on principles investigation of torture the author referred to the resolutions of the Generalnay Assembly and Commission on Human Rights and the UN special rapporteur on torture.
Here's is the analyticial note (in Russian):