No matter who you are, you will never be safe from torture in Russia

 

The Homo Homini human rights award for 2016 goes to the Russian non-governmental organization Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Prague, 16 February 2017 - People in Need is proud to announce that the Homo Homini award for 2016 will be granted to the Russian non-governmental organization Committee for the Prevention of Torture. They are being awarded the prize for the courage and stamina they maintain in order to assist those who are victims of torture, police harassment and violence and impunity, while also defending their rights not only before Russian authorities, but also on the international level.

“The Committee for the Prevention of Torture engages in highly complex activities under very challenging conditions. They document various cases of torture and subsequently help the victims, knowing that they are risking their own safety,” says Šimon Pánek, the director of the organization People in Need. “The space is shrinking for the activities of civil society and non-governmental organizations in the post-Soviet region, especially in Russia. In times such as these, we feel it is only logical to celebrate such a collective endeavor and to grant the Homo Homini award to this organization,” adds Pánek.  

As is the case every year, the prize will be awarded during the opening ceremony of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, which will be on March 6th this year. The event will take place in the Prague Crossroads (Pražská křižovatka) and starts at 7PM. The award will be accepted in person by Igor Kalyapin, the founder and current director of the organization, together with Olga Sadovskaya, the Deputy Director and Sergey Romanov, who conducts investigations into individual torture cases.

“No matter who you are, you will never be safe from torture in Russia,” says the founder of the organization, Igor Kalyapin, who entered the fight for human rights after he himself became a victim of police brutality. The achievements of his organization include for example the cancellation of 793 unlawful decisions, the conviction of 127 perpetrators, and the securing of 51 million rubles in compensation for a number of torture victims through court hearings.

The organization and its members face mounting pressure from the state apparatus, including physical threats. The Committee's Chechen office has been looted several times, and in 2016, local workers and a group of journalists invited to the region by the organization were violently assaulted. This included the director Igor Kalyapin, too. Despite these events, they have not succumbed to intimidation and have continued to document torture cases. “We are aiming for two things: for torture to become unacceptable for Russian society and for the investigation of human rights violations to become more effective. That's all,” says Kalyapin. Only after that would the organization consider ending its activities.

“Receiving the Homo Homini award gives us hope that the human rights situation in Russia is of interest to the international community. It also symbolizes an important form of support for those who are victims of torture,” adds Kalyapin.

Meet members of Committee for the Prevention of Torture personaly

New winners of Homo Homini Award will participate in panel discussions „Are Soviet Gulag comming back?“, which will be held on Tuesday, March 7 at 19:00 pm in the large hall of Municipal Library. It will be preceded by screening of the documentary about Oleg Sencovovi The Trail.

Homo Homini

People in Need has bestowed the Homo Homini award annually on personalities or groups who have significantly contributed to the promotion of human rights and democracy and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts since 1994. The laureates from previous years include the Syrian school teacher and activist Souad Nawfal, the Azerbaijani lawyer Intigam Aliyev, Kyrgyz defender of those unjustly prosecuted Azimjan Askarov and the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (who was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize). Regretfully, a number of the laureates continue to be kept behind bars in their home countries for political reasons.

Igor Kalyapin

Igor Kalyapin is the Director of the Russian organization Committee for the Prevention of Torture. He became involved in the field of human rights protection after he himself became a victim of an unlawful use of violence by the Russian police. The fact that he was previously a successful entrepreneur might have been a reason for him being capable of creating such a professional and effective organization as the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. He founded the Committee in the year 2000, after several years of volunteering in the field. During his career, he has repeatedly faced pressure from state authorities, with the situation getting worse in March 2016, when a group of journalists invited to Chechnya by the Committee were assaulted, which was soon followed by an attack on Igor Kalyapin himself in Grozny a few days later. The perpetrators of this incident were never captured.

 

Olga Sadovskaya

Olga Sadovskaya is the Deputy Director of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, which she has been a part of since 2001. At the same time, she works as a lecturer on the topics of International Law and the European System of Human Rights Protection. She is the author of various textbooks and participated in the publication of a guidebook which focuses on the public's involvement in the investigations of torture cases and human rights violations in general, which is widely used by human rights defenders throughout the entire post-Soviet region. She has won dozens of cases at the European Court of Human Rights. She has been repeatedly placed under pressure from the state apparatus.

Sergey Romanov

Sergey Romanov was previously one of the leading lawyers in Tajikistan. Due to numerous threats, he was forced to leave Tajikistan and in 2014 he started working for the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. In the organization, he conducts the investigations into the individual torture cases. Dozens of such cases have been led to their conclusion thanks to his activities, resulting in individual perpetrators being legally punished and victims receiving compensation. Sergey Romanov is also active in the area of human rights protection for political prisoners. 

 

 

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