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Double VictimDay
Written by   
, 22 2010
120 years ago, the Cabinet of Ministers of Great Britain published the Crime Victims Charter, and February 22nd was designated International Support of Crime Victims Day. Today the world has about 200programs to help the victims of criminal acts. InRussia, according to many lawyers and citizens, the rights of victims of high-profile crimes in recent years not are only NOT protected, but often violated by agents of the state.
Most European countries, as well as the United States and Canada, have long recognized that the primary function of the criminal justice system should be to address the queries, and safeguard the interests, of the victim. Russian legislation, and in particular the Code of Criminal Procedure that defines the purpose of criminal proceedings, places primary emphasis on protecting the rights and lawful interests of individuals and organizations affected by crime. Victims of criminal acts in Russia, however, often complain about the lack of support from the government, and believe that their rights are limited as well.
We are still primarily interested in investigating the Nord-Ost case, said Dmitry Milovidov, co-chair of the Nord-Ost regional public organization promoting the protection of victims of terrorist acts. Until now we didn't have a chance to fully acquaint ourselves with materials from the criminal case. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, we have the right to review it only after the investigation is complete. Butat the same time for several years the investigation has been extended under various pretexts, and starting in December of 2003it was assigned to only one investigator. OnMay 19th, 2007, the investigation was suspended, but it was reopened several times in order to provide case materials to the European Court of Human Rights. Alot of formal replies from the authorities have also accumulated. Forexample, we received assistance for our loved ones' funerals, one-half from the city of Moscow and one-half the federal government. Later the government tried to claim that this was compensation for their deaths.
According to attorney Anna Panicheva, the main problem is that law enforcement practice in Russia is often at odds with provisions enshrined in the law.
Victims here, especially during hearings and preliminary investigations, have many rights. Butit's entirely another thing when taking advantage of these rights with regards to how law enforcement is carried out. Should they give the victims all documents and case materials? Howshould they address him or her? Whatcompensation should be paid for disabled relatives or to the children of the victim in the case of his or her death? Onthe other hand, we have recently discovered a strange phenomenon, in which someone consistently offers someone else a bribe. Theyjust go up to him and try to persuade him, take the money, here, take it! Andthen it turns out that the bribe money was given out by the intelligence services, and so in this case they become victims and bring in lawyers and prosecutors to help convict the person accused of taking the bribe that they all but forced him or her to accept. Inlawsuits everyone is uncomfortable and everyone feels insecure, both the accused and the victim.
Most lawyers believe that, in terms of Russian law on the involvement of victims in criminal proceedings, the law is pretty clear. Inthe Russian legal community, however, when it comes to compensation of victims, very few are optimistic.
If a crime is committed by an officer, which nowadays goes on everywhere, and, of course, the state is responsible for this, there is practically no chance. Thestate doesn't pay its bills, and they cover for the official, says lawyer Igor Trunov. An illustrative example: Yevsyukov (ed: a police officer who went on a shooting spree in a supermarket), 30people were wounded. We’re talking about damages for very serious situations a Mr. Gerasimenko has a bullet near his heart and needs an operation, a Ms. Salikhova needs surgery, and so on. These cases are now before the European Court of Human Rights, and it is our only hope, because here we have lost every case possible in terms of the state. Itmakes no sense to sue Yevsyukov there are many victims, and he will serve a life sentence, he won’t work at a job, so what is there to recover in terms of damages? Wehave similar examples with the apartment bombings at Kashirka and on Guryanov Street. Theyimprisoned Dekkushev and Krymshamhalov. Wewere awarded quite a large amount in damages, but five years have passed and in these five years we’ve received only 50rubles.
Many countries have national programs for social and psychological rehabilitation of crime victims, but in Russia such activities are farmed out to community organizations.
When we were on official travel in the United States with Russian judges, said lawyer Anna Panicheva. There we saw that victims have virtually no rights in court, that is, they are just witnesses. Sowe say: what is this? Givethe victims their rights. Butover there we also saw such huge programs a lot of money is allocated to support victims of sexual and other crimes. Overhere this is not done by the state, but by human rights organizations, and very modestly.
The problem of social rehabilitation for victims of crime began to worry the international community towards the end of the last century. InNovember of 1985, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, developing the first universal principles of support and protection for victims of crimes and abuses of power. Andexactly 20years ago, the Cabinet of Ministers of Great Britain published the Crime Victims Charter, and since then, February 22nd has been International Support of Crime Victims Day.
Radio Liberty

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