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Russian diplomat: Abuse, deaths in prison custody on the rise in US

March 10, 19:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to the Human Rights Watch report 2015, the number of prisoners in the United States stood at 2.37 million people, more than in any other country of the world, Konstantin Dolgov said
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© AP Photo/Sean Rayford

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. Incidents of prisoner abuse and deaths of inmates are on the rise in US prisons, Russian Foreign Ministry’s ombudsman told Tass on Thursday.

"According to a report for 2015 from the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch, the number of prisoners in the United States stood at 2.37 million people, more than in any other country of the world," said Konstantin Dolgov, ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law.

"According to US Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Director Charles Samuels, there have been on the average 40% more than projected inmates in prisons over the past ten years. Fifteen penitentiary facilities in the US are 100% overcrowded," Dolgov added.

The problem of solitary imprisonment and absence of medical help

"The problem of solitary imprisonment still remains unresolved. According to Human Rights Watch, about 100,000 inmates of federal prisons and prisons in states are kept in full isolation," he went on.

"Long isolation leads to serious health problems. Often, as a results of staying in single confinement cells, inmates self-harm themselves gravely or commit suicides," he said.

According to Amnesty International, defendants are often isolated before they face trial, he said. "In particular, such conditions of detention were applied to Russian national Ilgiz Khamidullin," Dolgov said, referring to the case in which in December 2015 he was sentenced to life imprisonment on accusations of terrorist activity.

"’Special administrative measures’ were applied to the Russian national in the pretrial detention center of Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia - a ban on visits (apart from the lawyer and consular officials) and telephone conversations with relatives," he went on.

He drew attention to the fact that inmates of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York could live in isolation for several months and even years pending a court trial. "Inmates don’t practically see the daylight, are deprived of walks in fresh air," he said.

Growing abuse in prisons and deaths of inmates were of a special concern, the diplomat said. "According to information from American Civil Liberties Union, youth, people not in their right mind, pregnant women, elderly people as well as people with restricted abilities often become subjects of abuse in prisons. Cases are not rare in which inmates are discriminated, pregnant women are handcuffed," he said.

He also drew attention to incidents of sexual abuse of inmates by personnel, as well as noted problems with access to medical help.

"Medical personnel of correctional facilities ignore chronical diseases that inmates suffer," Dolgov said, also noting undue medical treatment of inmates with mental derangement, in some cases leading to a sharp deterioration of health or deaths.

He also said that Russian national Konstantin Yaroshenko in prison in the US was systematically facing insufficient medical assistance despite an aggravation of chronical illnesses.

Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in jail on September 7, 2011. He had been brought to the United States from Liberia after being arrested on May 28, 2010. Agents from the US Federal Drug Control Agency operating in disguise allegedly exposed his criminal intentions to transport a large batch of cocaine.

Yaroshenko underwent a surgery in January, but proper post-operation treatment was denied to him. Lawyer Aleksey Tarasov said when his client woke up after anesthesia he was allowed to stay at the medical facility for just twenty minutes and then returned to his cell. He was neither taken to the prison hospital or given prescription drugs.

No one has been brought to justice to date for torture in CIA secret jails

Not a single person has been brought to justice for torture in CIA secret jails, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and rule of law, Konstantin Dolgov, has told TASS.

"On December 9, 2014 the US Senate published a report on torture in CIA secret jails," Dolgov recalled. "The most meaningful part of the document - more than 6,700 pages - remains secret and the US authorities are still reluctant to make it public."

"As follows from the report, the inmates of secret jails were subjected to inhuman, humiliating treatment. They were beaten against the wall, kept awake for 180 hours, made to stand long with their handcuffed hands raised up, left without clothes, put in ice-cold baths, locked up in cells with loud music playing non-stop and subjected to forced rectal feeding," he said. "Artificial drowning and other cruel methods of questioning were widely used."

According to the diplomat, not a single person in the United States or Europe (Poland, Lithuania, Romania or Britain) has been brought to justice for torture or other cruel treatment or abductions by CIA agents under a secret detentions program.

"The practice of open-ended arrests of suspects without fair trial at the Guantanamo base is continuing for the 14th year running," Dolgov said. "Among the several dozen persons who remain in the legal vacuum in this special jail is Russian citizen Ravil Mingazov. Although the US authorities have repeatedly promised to make up their mind regarding the future of our citizen it has not happened to this day. He has neither faced official charges or been set free and remains in a state of deprivation."

Also, Dolgov said that the United States remained the sole country in the Western Hemisphere that continued to actively enforce the capital punishment.

"According to a report by Amnesty International, at least 27 men and one woman were put to death in six states and more than 3,000 others were pending execution in 2015," he said. "Moreover, the lethal injections used to exercise capital punishment often result in long pre-death pain and suffering."

Alongside this according to Amnesty International "shocking statistics were published indicating that six convicts of all those previously sentenced to death were fully acquitted in 2015 and that the overall number of crude judicial mistakes in the United States since 1973 has totaled 156."

Moscow points to "crude violations by the US authorities of the norms of international human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of 1984, and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1955.

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