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We should not allow yet another death in pre-trial detention. Activists and experts demand to release Margarita Charikova on bail immediately

18A_Matrosskaya_Tishina_source_newsru.com

Pre-trial detention center Matrosskaya Tishina. Photo credit: m.newsru.com

Life and health do not count when the Government is tough on drugs 

Russian human rights activists are demanding that the authorities release 24-year-old Margarita Charykova fromMoscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center. Charykova’s mother claims that her daughter who was born without a rectum, is “rotting alive” since she is not receiving the right medical help which is simply not possible to get in the pre-trial detention. Whilst in pre-trial detention, Charykova, who is suffering from edema, gained ten kilograms, and had to be taken to the prison hospital.

24 years old Margarita was arrested in December 2012. She is facing up to ten years imprisonment  for possession of the pain-killer, which was mixed with a home-made psychotropic stimulant. Mixing pain killers with stimulants was necessary for the leady in order to cope with the sedative effects of the pain-killers: despite her debilitating health conditions Charikova had an active social life and tried to hide her rare health condition.

Svetlana Sidorkina, a lawyer with the Agora human rights association has already submitted an urgent appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Sidorkina said Charykova’s life and health was under serious threat as such a serious health condition could not be appropriately addressed at the pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

Anna Karetnikova, a member of Moscow’s Public Oversight Commission, visited Charykova on Tuesday and said her poor health was obvious. In contrast Kristina Belousova, Federal Penitentiary Service spokesperson, said Charykova had received the medical assistance she needed, and that she could stay at the detention center. She added that her condition did not warrant a release, and that Charykova’s health was satisfactory. These statements are strikingly similar to what prison authorities gave with regards to Sergei Magnitsky who passed away in November 2009 receiving no medical help in the same pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

In addition the authorities claim that Charykova’s health condition does not fall under the categories of health conditioned listed by the Government for the justification of the release of the suspects from the pre-trial detention.

Activists demand to release Margarita CharykovaAnya Sarang from the Andrey Rylkov Foundation deems that the state demonstrates a particular merciless attitude towards Charykova due to the fact that the young lady is accused of drug crime. Recently Russia toughened criminal punishment for drug crimes, making trafficking one of a few crimes punishable by life imprisonment. Often courts rubber stamp the decisions of drug control agencies concerning the pre-trial detention even if the circumstances of the case are very dubious and/or the accused is clearly not a dangerous criminal. The punitive criminal justice system in Russia is becoming particularly repressive and merciless when the case is concerning drugs. Justice officials fail to recognize any humanitarian aspects of the case. To certain extent this may happen even with the UN Human Rights bodies, such as the UN Committee against torture. In November 2012 this UN Committee completely ignored compelling facts presented by the coalition of national and international NGOs about the widespread ill-treatment driven by the repressive drug policy in Russia.

Mikhail Golichenko, Expert of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network: “The case of Charykova is a sad reflection of the fact that no substantive changes occurred in the area of medical help in pre-trial detention since the death of Sergey Magnitsky even despite the Government’s attempts to introduce some formal changes, such as the list of health conditions for the release from the pre-trial detention or some changes in management of the prison health system. The criminal justice system operates in complete disregard of the constitutional principles which stipulate that human rights must define and determine the activities of the authorities, including the law enforcement, judiciary and prisons. In the case of Charykova, where life and health are clearly in danger, the authorities justify the continuous pre-trial detention with the fact that the rare life threatening condition does not fall under the category of what the Government listed as the grounds for the release. Such a formal approach in implementation of laws is profoundly persistent in Russia. Despite the clear superiority of human rights stipulated in the Constitution and the superiority of the Constitution in the legal system, courts and law enforcement tend to use poorly written ministerial and governmental orders and decrees even if these documents completely nullify the constitutional guarantees.”

We should not allow yet another death in pre-trial detention. Release Margarita Charykova on bail immediately!



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