Death Penalty Database

Russian Federation

Information current as of: March 27, 2012

General

Official Country Name

Russian Federation (Russia). [1]

Geographical Region

Europe (Eastern Europe). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. Amnesty International reports that the last execution in the Russian Federation occurred in 1999 in the Chechen Republic, although the Federation as a whole instituted a moratorium on executions in 1996. [3]

Methods of Execution

Shooting.
Prior to the mass commutation of all death sentences and judicial moratorium on the pronouncement or execution of death sentences, [4] the death penalty was carried out by a pistol shot to the back of the condemned’s head. [5]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Russia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3183.htm, Nov. 2, 2011.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Sep. 20, 2011.
[3] President Boris Yeltsin’s Decree no. 724 of May 16, 1996 “for gradual reduction of the application of the death penalty in conjunction with Russia's entry into the Council of Europe”; Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012. Note that while our standard (used by the United Nations) for determining that a country is abolitionist in practice requires only that no judicial execution has occurred within the last ten years, Amnesty International also offers an evaluation that the Federation has no intent to re-initiate executions.
[4] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009.
[5] Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009.

Country Details

Language(s)

Russian [1]

Population

142,900,000. 142,900,000. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

0.

There was no one on death row at the end of 2017. [3]

In 1999, all death sentences were commuted [4] and Russia continues to observe its moratorium on the death penalty. [5]

(This question was last updated on May 8, 2018.)

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2018 to date (last updated on October 17, 2018)

0. [6]

Executions in 2017

0. [7]

Executions in 2016

0. [8]

Executions in 2015

0. [9]

Executions in 2014

0. [10]

Executions in 2013

0. [11]

Executions in 2012

0. [12] A moratorium on executions has been in force in the Russian Federation since 1999 and was extended in 2009. [13]

Executions in 2011

0. [14]

Executions in 2010

0. [15]

Executions in 2009

0. [16]

Executions in 2008

0. [17]

Executions in 2007

0. [18]

Year of Last Known Execution

1999. The Russian Federation as a whole adopted a moratorium on executions in 1996; however, the Chechen Republic continued to carry out executions until 1999. [19]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Russia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3183.htm, Nov. 2, 2011.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Russia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3183.htm, Nov. 2, 2011 (information as of Aug. 2011).
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2017, p. 28, ACT 50/7955/2018, Apr. 12, 2018.
[4] Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2017, p. 28, ACT 50/7955/2018, Apr. 12, 2018.
[6] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[7] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[8] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[9] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[13] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, pp. 31, 58, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012. A moratorium on executions has been in force in the Russian Federation since 1999 and was extended in 2009. Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 52, n. 49, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011. A moratorium on executions has been in force in the Russian Federation since 1999 and was extended in 2009. Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 18, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, generally, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[19] President Boris Yeltsin’s Decree no. 724 of May 16, 1996 “for gradual reduction of the application of the death penalty in conjunction with Russia's entry into the Council of Europe”; Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Intentional murder for profit, in the furtherance of another crime, committed as part of a group, of officials or their relatives to oppose their duties, committed as a hate crime or with cruelty, maliciousness or baseness is punishable by death. [1]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Genocide - including killing, inflicting grave injuries to health, preventing childbirth, forcible transfer of children, resettlement, or using any other means to accomplish genocide - is punishable by death. [2]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
An attempt on the life of any professional or employee engaged in the criminal justice system (including law enforcement), for the purpose of revenge or to interfere with law enforcement or an investigation or the administration of justice, is punishable by death. [3] An attempt on the life of a statesman to terminate his or her government or political activity or out of revenge for such activity is punishable by death (and may be considered a terrorist act). [4]

Comments.
The new Criminal Code of 1996, which came into force just after Russia became a Member State of Council of Europe, considerably reduced the number of crimes punishable with death. [5]

While Article 66 of the Criminal Code prohibits capital punishment for an attempted crime, Article 59 allows the death penalty for especially grave crimes of “attempt on the life”. Several articles apply the death penalty for specific instances of “attempt on the life or similar crimes, but also provide for a range of lesser penalties. These “attempts on the life” may be a category of attempt in which the commission of certain criminal acts with the ultimate intent of harming the person or life of certain individuals is in itself a death-eligible offense. We do not know whether courts interpret Article 66 to limit the death penalty for encroachment to cases in which a life is taken. [6]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. All death-eligible crimes in the Russian Federation are discretionary; furthermore, the Criminal Code provides for universal mitigation. [7]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Not applicable. All death-eligible crimes in the Russian Federation are discretionary; furthermore, the Criminal Code provides for universal mitigation. [8]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

None. The Russian Federation adopted a moratorium on the death penalty in 1996; this moratorium has been followed by all republics in the federation since 1999. [9]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
The execution of individuals below the age of 18 at the time of the crime is prohibited. [10]

Women.
Women cannot be sentenced to death. [11]

Pregnant Women.
Women cannot be sentenced to death. [12]

Women With Small Children.
Women cannot be sentenced to death. [13]

Intellectually Disabled.
A person unable to understand the nature or consequences of his or her actions, or to control them, by reason of intellectual disability is not criminally liable. Partial incapacity is grounds for mitigation. [14]

Mentally Ill.
A person unable to understand the nature or consequences of his or her actions, or to control them, by reason of mental deficiency is not criminally liable. Partial incapacity is grounds for mitigation. [15]

Elderly.
Persons older than 65 by the time of adjudication cannot be sentenced to death. [16]

References

[1] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 105(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[2] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art.357, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[3] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 295, 317, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[4] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 277, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[5] Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[6] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59, 66, 277, 295, 317, 357, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[7] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, arts. 60-65, 105, 277, 295, 317, 357, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[8] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, arts. 60-65, 105, 277, 295, 317, 357, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012.
[10] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[11] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[12] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[13] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[14] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, arts. 21-22, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[15] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, arts. 21-22, Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[16] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

October 16, 1973. [2]

Signed?

Yes. [3]

Date of Signature

March 18, 1968. [4]

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [5]

Date of Accession

October 1, 1991. [6]

Signed?

No. [7]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [8]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [9]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [10]

Vote

In Favor. [11]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [12]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [13]

Vote

In Favor. [14]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [15]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [16]

Vote

In Favor. [17]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [18]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [19]

Vote

In Favor. [20]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [21]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [22]

Vote

In Favor. [23]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [24]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [25]

Vote

In Favor. [26]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [27]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[9] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
[10] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[11] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[12] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[13] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[14] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[15] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[16] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[17] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[18] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[19] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[20] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[21] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[22] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[23] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[24] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[25] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[26] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[27] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Article 20 of the Constitution provides that “[everyone] shall have the right to life;” furthermore, “[capital] punishment may, until its abolition, be instituted by federal law as exceptional punishment for especially grave crimes against life, with the accused having the right to have his case considered in a law court by jury.” [1]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Article 15(4) of the Constitution provides that “[the] commonly recognized principles and norms of the international law and the international treaties of the Russian Federation shall be a component part of its legal system. If an international treaty of the Russian Federation stipulates rules other than those stipulated by the law, the rules of the international treaty shall apply.” [2] As a check against the possibility that an international treaty could undermine rights or other guarantees of the Constitution, Article 125(6) empowers the Constitutional Court to nullify international agreements that violate the Constitution. [3]

Regarding individuals, the Constitution establishes that “[in] conformity with the international treaties of the Russian Federation, everyone shall have the right to turn to interstate organs concerned with the protection of human rights and liberties when all the means of legal protection within the state have been exhausted.” [4]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

There has been a judicial moratorium on the death penalty in place since 1999; in November 2009, the Constitutional Court extended this moratorium due to questions about the Russian Federation’s obligations under treaty and customary law and due to its constitutional mandate to progress towards abolition. [5]
Russia has not acceded to Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights or the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which both concern the abolition of the death penalty. While it voted in favor of the U.N. General Assembly’s proposal to institute a universal moratorium on executions, it also stated to the U.N. Human Rights Council that abolition “would depend on the prevailing view in Russian society on abolition.” [6]
In 2008, the Legislation Committee of the Duma (Russian Parliament) presented a bill regarding “the abolition of the death penalty in the Russian Federation”, but it has not been enacted. [7]
Following the terrorist attacks of March 2010 and January 2011 in Moscow, politicians have showed lack of will to abolish the death penalty in law; and the Duma’s spokesman was reported to have said that the ratification of the Protocol is unlikely to take place against public opinion (surveys show that the majority of Russians support the death penalty). [8]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

Yes. In 1996, the year it became a member of the Council of Europe, the Russian Federation adopted a moratorium on executions, imposed by then-President Boris Yeltsin in order to comply with Russia’s international commitments, namely the ratification of Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights Concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty, within three years of joining the Council of Europe. [9] The Chechen Republic evidenced some unwillingness to comply with the moratorium, [10] but the moratorium has been followed by all republics in the Federation since 1999. [11]
In 1999, the Constitutional Court determined that the Federation had not yet ensured that safeguards regarding the application of the death penalty were in place, and instituted a judicial moratorium on the death penalty. In 2009, after reform of the judicial system (primarily access to jury trials) was completed and ready to start operating in all regions by January 1, 2010, the Constitutional Court revisited the issue and determined that the application of capital punishment could not be reinstated because the moratorium is related to international commitments of the Federation. In fact, abolition of the death penalty had been one of the conditions of the country’s accession to the Council of Europe and Russia was still in the ratification process of Protocol No. 6. Additionally, the court held (or implied) that the Federation’s move towards abolition was “irreversible.” Some justices on the Court were reported to be influenced by the Federation’s international obligations (as required by the Constitution) [12] or voluntary acknowledgement of the customs of Europe. [13]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

Yes. The most significant recent cases were decided on February 2, 1999 and November 19, 2009 by the Constitutional Court. In 1999, the Court enforced a moratorium on the death penalty due to the lack of constitutional safeguards regarding its application (namely, lack of jury trials available in all republics of the Federation); in 2009, the Court extended the moratorium, observing that even though the Russian Federation had put a jury system in place in all of its regions, questions about the Federation’s international commitments precluded application of the death penalty. [14] The Court may have been influenced by the constitutional requirement that the Federation progress towards abolition as well as the constitutional requirement [15] that the Federation’s courts observe international obligations and customary law regarding human rights. European law excludes the death penalty in peacetime and abolition of the death penalty had been one of the conditions of the country’s accession to the Council of Europe in 1996. [16]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

Supreme Court and Constitutional Court decisions can be accessed at: http://www.vsrf.ru/index.php. The resource is in Russian.

What is the clemency process?

Upon pronouncement of a capital sentence, the court must inform the sentenced person of his right to seek clemency. [17] Under Article 89 of the Constitution, the President has the prerogative of mercy. [18] Under Article 59(3) of the Criminal Code, by way of pardon capital punishment may be replaced with imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for a term of 25 years. [19] Currently, courts in federated Russian states are prohibited from sentencing individuals to death. [20]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Yes. Under Article 20 of the Constitution, a capital defendant is guaranteed the right to trial by jury. [21] The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation ruled in 1999 that the death penalty could not be used until jury trials had been introduced in all of Russia’s 89 regions and suspended the possibility of carrying out capital sentences from 1999-2009 due to time required for that implementation. At the end of 2009, when the Chechen region had made the necessary reforms and jury trials would be able to start operating in all regions of Russia by January 1, 2010, the Constitutional Court extended this moratorium due to other human rights considerations. [22]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Any party or his representative, or a victim’s representative, may file a criminal appeal against conviction or acquittal. [23] A petitioner may file before a statutory (district) court/ appeal court or the cassation court (Supreme Court). [24] Courts of appeal or cassation may consider only legality, substantiation, and the justness of the sentence; while cassation courts may mitigate the sentence, aggravation of the sentence is not permitted. [25] An acquittal can be reversed if it is shown that the prosecutor was wrongfully prevented from presenting proof or from submitting proper questions to the jury. [26] The Criminal Procedure Code describes the applicable rules during the appeals process in minute detail. [27]

References

[1] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 20, Dec. 12, 1993. See also Article 56(3) on non-derogation.
[2] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 15, Dec. 12, 1993.
[3] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 125, Dec. 12, 1993.
[4] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 46(3), Dec. 12, 1993. See also Article 56(3) on non-derogation.
[5] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[6] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Human Rights Council on its eleventh session, para. 335, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/37, Oct. 16, 2009.
[7] Russia is committed to abolishing the death penalty as a member of the Council of Europe, Hands Off Cain, http://www.handsoffcain.info/news/index.php?iddocumento=10001778, Jan. 1, 2008.
[8] Medvedev says Russia's death penalty ban was not his choice, Ria Novosti, http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100402/158412354.html, Apr. 2, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 13, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010; O.S.C.E.’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, The Death Penalty in the OSCE Area: Background Paper 2011, p. 5, http://www.osce.org/odihr/82896, 2011; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 25, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011; RIA Novosti choice: The top ten events in the Russian judiciary and legal system in 2009, RIA Novosti, http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20100104/157434175.html, Jan. 4, 2010; U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Human Rights Council on its eleventh session, para. 335, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/37, Oct. 16, 2009.
[9] President’s Decree no. 724 of May 16, 1996 “for gradual reduction of the application of the death penalty in conjunction with Russia's entry into the Council of Europe”; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, MDE 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Feb. 28, 2012, reporting that executions were carried out between 1996 and 1999 in the Chechen Republic.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Feb. 26, 2012; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, MDE 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[12] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 15, Dec. 12, 1993.
[13] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; RIA Novosti choice: The top ten events in the Russian judiciary and legal system in 2009, RIA Novosti, http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20100104/157434175.html, Jan. 4, 2010. We could not find a translation of the full text of the Constitutional Court judgment and the sources that report it are ambiguous as to if the moratorium refers to the imposition of death sentences or only to executions. We believe that the moratorium comprises both application and execution of death sentences, considering that the grounds for the Constitutional Court 1999 judgment were the lack of jury trials and of constitutional safeguards regarding the application of the death penalty. However, Amnesty International reports a commutation of 697 death sentences to life imprisonment at the end of 2009 (Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 25, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011). We couldn't find any other source confirming this commutation. Considering that all death sentences were commuted in 1999 (Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Jan. 21, 2012; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010), a new commutation in 2009 could only mean either that the 1999 commutation did not, after all, encompass all persons on death row or that new death sentences had been passed after 1999. The latter would mean that the 1999 judicial moratorium applied only to executions. However, we could not find evidence of death sentences imposed after 1999 - there are no death sentences reported at least since 2006 and the fact that Russia became a member of the Council of Europe makes the imposition of death sentences between 1999 and 2006 very unlikely.
[14] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20100104/157434175.html. We could not find a translation of the full text of the Constitutional Court judgment and the sources that report it are ambiguous as to if the moratorium refers to the imposition of death sentences or only to executions. We believe that the moratorium comprises both application and execution of death sentences, considering that the grounds for the Constitutional Court 1999 judgment were the lack of jury trials and of constitutional safeguards regarding the application of the death penalty. However, Amnesty International reports a commutation of 697 death sentences to life imprisonment at the end of 2009 (Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 25, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011). We couldn't find any other source confirming this commutation. Considering that all death sentences were commuted in 1999 (Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Jan. 21, 2012; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010), a new commutation in 2009 could only mean either that the 1999 commutation did not, after all, encompass all persons on death row or that new death sentences had been passed after 1999. The latter would mean that the 1999 judicial moratorium applied only to executions. However, we could not find evidence of death sentences imposed after 1999 - there are no death sentences reported at least since 2006 and the fact that Russia became a member of the Council of Europe makes the imposition of death sentences between 1999 and 2006 very unlikely.
[15] For example, Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 15, Dec. 12, 1993.
[16] Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Concerning Abolition of the Death Penalty, Strasbourg, 1983; Council of Europe, Protocol no. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Chart of signatures and ratifications, Status as of Mar. 2, 2012, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=114&CM=8&DF=02/03/2012&CL=ENG, last accessed Mar. 2, 2012. This document has been ratified by every other Member State of the Council of Europe and was signed by the Russian Federation, in part as part of an agreement to obtain membership in the Council of Europe. Additionally, only one nation in Europe (Belarus, not a member of the Council of Europe) carries out executions. This tends to support reports that judges were influenced by the Federation’s obligations under treaty and customary law. Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Andrei Skvarsky, Russia: Death Penalty Moratorium Extended Indefinitely, Global Voices, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/01/09/russia-death-penalty-moratorium-extended-indefinitely/, Jan. 9, 2010.
[17] Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 310(3), Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[18] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 89, Dec. 12, 1993.
[19] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(3), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[20] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009.
[21] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 20, Dec. 12, 1993. See also Articles 47(2) & 123(4), guaranteeing the right to trial by jury in criminal cases or any case stipulated by federal law; Article 56(3) on non-derogation.
[22] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; RIA Novosti choice: The top ten events in the Russian judiciary and legal system in 2009, RIA Novosti, http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20100104/157434175.html, Jan. 4, 2010.
[23] Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 354(4), Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[24] Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 355, Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[25] Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 360, Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[26] Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 361 et seq., Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[27] Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 355, Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

No one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [1] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of carrying out death sentences; this ruling was extended in 2009 and is still in effect. [2]

Description of Prison Conditions

No one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [3] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of carrying out death sentences; this ruling is still in effect. [4] Although the death penalty is not pronounced or imposed, individuals are still convicted of serious crimes. In general, prison conditions in the Russian Federation are harsh and can be life-threatening; most prisoners are held in labor colonies, and torture, intentional deprivation of food, denial of necessary medical care and disregard for the safety of prisoners from other prisoners is common. The Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences of the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Justice estimated that 41% of those in the federal prison system had some type of illness, although the General Prosecutor's Office stated that as many as 90% have health problems; significant percentages had mental disorders, tuberculosis, HIV and other serious illnesses. Juveniles are sometimes held with adults. [5] A 2007 report of the U.N. Committee Against Torture loosely corroborates that conditions for detainees in the Russian Federation are severe. [6] Since 2010, the President has been taking action to reduce the chronic overcrowding by granting pardons and promoting alternative punishment for lesser crimes. [7] In its last periodic report to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, Russia announced that its Government has approved, in October 2010, an “Outline for the development of the penal correction system until 2020”, aiming at implementing a “new system in conformity with international standards for the treatment of detained and convicted persons.” This reform is to take place in three phases over the period up to 2020. [8] The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has been carrying out visits to Russian Federation’s places of detention yearly; the reports on the facts found during the visits, containing conclusions and recommendations, serve as basis for an ongoing dialogue between the CPT and the national authorities, but they remain confidential as of March 2012 (their publication depends on the authorization of the State Party concerned). [9]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

No. No one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [10] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of death sentences and executions; this ruling is still in effect. [11]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

No one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [12] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of death sentences and executions; this ruling is still in effect. [13]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

No. Women cannot be sentenced to death. [14] Furthermore, no one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [15] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of death sentences and executions; this ruling is still in effect. [16]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

No. Individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the crime cannot be sentenced to death. [17] Moreover, no one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [18] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of death sentences and executions; this ruling is still in effect. [19] Individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the crime cannot be sentenced to death. [20]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

No one is held under sentence of death in the Russian Federation. In 1999, all death sentences were commuted. [21] In 1999, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling temporarily eliminating the possibility of death sentences and executions; this ruling is still in effect. Reports and the origin of cases from which the Court’s death penalty jurisprudence has emanated do suggest that the Chechen Republic is a flashpoint for death penalty issues, or at least that the Chechen Republic was the sole republic still executing in 1999 despite a Presidential moratorium. [22]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Under Article 48 of the Constitution and Article 51(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, individuals are guaranteed the right to competent legal counsel at the state’s expense when facing capital charges. [23] In practice, this right may sometimes be ignored. [24]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Under Article 48 of the Constitution and Articles 51(5) and 364(3)(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, individuals are guaranteed the right to competent legal counsel at the state’s expense when facing capital charges, including during the appeals process. [25] In practice, this right may sometimes be ignored. [26]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

In its 2007 concluding observations and recommendations pursuant to state party reporting, the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern that torture, a lack of respect for the right to counsel, secret detention and unfair trials were serious problems. Additionally, human rights defenders and journalists who spoke out on these topics suffered severe reprisals, possibly at the hands of state authorities. Reprisals were associated with those accused of serious offenses. [27] Such reprisals undermine effective representation. Leandro Despouy, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, observed that a failure to understand the role of defense attorneys in the justice system and interference by the executive has undermined the public’s confidence in the administration of justice. [28]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

In its 2007 concluding observations and recommendations pursuant to state party reporting, the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern that police abuse and torture of detainees was reportedly a serious problem and that the right to counsel was not always respected. Individuals accused of serious crimes did not always receive fair trials, and human rights defenders and journalists who spoke out on these topics suffered severe reprisals, possibly at the hands of state authorities. [29] In high-profile cases, the judiciary may be influenced by the executive and widespread corruption is reported. [30] Leandro Despouy, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, commented that the Russian Federation’s legal framework had been significantly improved but required time and continuing reform to fully realize the Federation’s aim of creating a fully independent judiciary that protects the citizenry’s fundamental rights. [31]

References

[1] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[2] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[3] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[4] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[5] U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Russia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154447.htm, April 8, 2011; Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2011, Russian Federation, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/russia/report-2011, last accessed Mar. 6, 2012.
[6] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, paras. 8, 17, 20-24, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4, Feb. 6, 2007.
[7] U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Russia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154447.htm, April 8, 2011; Official site of the President of Russia, Draft law aimed at humanization of criminal legislation has been submitted the State Duma, http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/2345, Jun. 7, 2011.
[8] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Fifth periodic reports of States parties due in 2010: Russian Federation, paras. 292-298, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/5, Dec. 28, 2010. According to the report, the “Outline” was approved by Government Order No. 1772-r.
[9] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, States: Documents and Visits, Russian Federation, http://www.cpt.coe.int/en/states/rus.htm, last accessed Mar. 12, 2012.
[10] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[11] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[12] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[13] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[14] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art. 59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009Dec. 28, 2004.
[15] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[16] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[17] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art.59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009Dec. 28, 2004.
[18] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[19] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[20] Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, art.59(2), Law No. 63-FZ of Jun. 13, 1996, as amended through to Jul. 29, 2009.
[21] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Aug. 6, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 12, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010.
[22] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/abolitionist-and-retentionist-countries, last accessed Sep. 17, 2010.
[23] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 48, Dec. 12, 1993. See also Article 56(3) on non-derogation. Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, art. 51(5), Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[24] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4, Feb. 6, 2007; U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Russia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154447.htm, Apr. 8, 2011.
[25] Constitution of the Russian Federation, art. 48, Dec. 12, 1993. See also Article 56(3) on non-derogation. Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, arts. 51(5), 364(3)(4), Law No. 174-FZ of Dec. 18, 2001, as amended through to Jun. 1, 2005.
[26] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4, Feb. 6, 2007; U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Russia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154447.htm, Apr. 8, 2011.
[27] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, paras. 8, 17, 20-24, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4, Feb. 6, 2007.
[28] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy: Russian Federation, paras. 93-97, A/HRC/11/41/Add.2, Mar. 23, 2009.
[29] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, paras. 8, 17, 20-24, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4, Feb. 6, 2007.
[30] U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Russia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154447.htm, Apr. 8, 2011; Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2011, Russian Federation, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/russia/report-2011, last accessed Mar. 6, 2012.
[31] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy: Russian Federation, paras. 93-97, A/HRC/11/41/Add.2, Mar. 23, 2009.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee in its 2009 periodic review of human rights in the Russian Federation recommended that Russia abolish the death penalty. [1]
In March 2011, the Human Rights Committee found a violation of art. 6, in conjunction with arts. 7(1), 9(2),(3), (4) and 14(1), (3), a), b), d) and g), of the ICCPR, in that the Russian Federation had imposed a death sentence following a trial held in violation of several fair trial guarantees, and where the defendant’s allegations of ill-treatment by the police during his arrest had been ignored. The case dated back to 1995, before Russia entered the Council of Europe and established a moratorium on the death penalty; the individual’s death sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment by the 1999 presidential commutation of death sentences. [2]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

Members of the Human Rights Council, in the 2009 Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the Russian Federation, recommended that Russia abolish the death penalty. [3] In response, the Russian delegation stated that complete abolition and its accession to Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and to the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR would “be considered once the appropriate changes have been made to domestic legislation.” It added that in accordance with its constitution, it “strives towards abolishing the death penalty on the [sic] step by step basis.” [4] Russia chose to delay its answer to the recommendations that it abolish the death penalty de jure and institute a moratorium on executions. [5] The only answer it later provided was that complete abolition “would depend on the prevailing view in Russian society on abolition.” [6]

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has repeatedly urged the Russian Federation to comply with its obligation to abolish death penalty in law and to ratify Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights. [7]

References

[1] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 40 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, para. 12, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/RUS/CO/6, Nov. 24, 2009.
[2] U. N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Human Rights Committee, Communication No. 1304/2004, Khoroshenko v. Russian Federation, Views adopted on 29 March 2011, UN Doc. CCPR/C/101/D/1304/2004, Apr. 29, 2011.
[3] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Russian Federation, para. 85(2), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/9, Mar. 3, 2009.
[4] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Russian Federation, para. 76, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/9, Mar. 3, 2009.
[5] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Russian Federation, para. 85.2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/9, Mar. 3, 2009
[6] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Human Rights Council on its eleventh session, para. 335, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/37, Oct. 16, 2009.
[7] Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Resolution 1187(1999), Europe: a death penalty-free continent, http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta99/ERES1187.htm, May 26, 1999; Resolution 1277(2002), Honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation, http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta02/ERES1277.htm, Apr. 23, 2002; Resolution 1455(2005), Honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation, http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta05/ERES1455.htm, Jun. 22, 2005; Recommendation 1760(2006), Position of the Parliamentary Assembly as regards the Council of Europe member and observer states which have not abolished the death penalty, http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta06/erec1760.htm, Jun. 28, 2006.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None.

Helpful Reports and Publications

None.

Additional notes regarding this country

The Russian Federation became a Member of the Council of Europe in 1996. As a condition of accession to the organization, it committed itself to abolishing the death penalty and to ratifying Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty (allowing for exceptions for acts committed in time of war or of imminent threat of war), within three years of joining the Council. Although Russia ratified the Convention, it only signed the Protocol (in April 6, 1997) [1] and the ratification process is still pending. Russia is the only Member State of the Council of Europe which has not ratified this Protocol. It is also one of the few Member States that is not a party to Protocol no. 13 to the Convention, Concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty in All Circumstances [2] .

In 2008, the Legislation Committee of the Duma (Russian Parliament) presented a bill regarding “the abolition of the death penalty in the Russian Federation”, but it has not been enacted. [3] Following the terrorist attacks of March 2010 and January 2011 in Moscow, politicians have showed lack of will to abolish the death penalty in law; and the Duma’s spokesman was reported to have said that the ratification of the Protocol is unlikely to take place against public opinion (surveys show that the majority of Russians support the death penalty). [4]

The Constitutional Court has enforced a moratorium on the pronouncement and execution of death sentences; [5] thus, defendants do not face capital charges. Nevertheless, enforcement of minimum human rights protections in the criminal justice system is seriously lacking, retaliation against human rights defenders and independent journalists is common and those facing serious criminal charges lack adequate safeguards in the provision of a fair investigative process and trial and may be subjected to lengthy incarceration under life-threatening conditions. [6] While reforms have created a structure appropriate for strong, independent courts that protect human rights, justices have not fully adjusted to the new system; furthermore, a failure to understand the role of defense attorneys has undermined the effectiveness of the system and executive interference with the judiciary has undermined the public’s confidence in the administration of justice. [7]

References

[1] Council of Europe, Protocol no. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Chart of signatures and ratifications, Status as of Mar. 2, 2012, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=114&CM=8&DF=02/03/2012&CL=ENG, last accessed Mar. 2, 2012.
[2] Council of Europe, Protocol no. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty in All Circumstances, Chart of signatures and ratifications, Status as of Mar. 2, 2012, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=187&CM=8&DF=02/03/2012&CL=ENG, last accessed Mar. 2, 2012.
[3] Russia is committed to abolishing the death penalty as a member of the Council of Europe, Hands Off Cain, http://www.handsoffcain.info/news/index.php?iddocumento=10001778, Jan. 1, 2008.
[4] Medvedev says Russia's death penalty ban was not his choice, Ria Novosti, http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100402/158412354.html, Apr. 2, 2010; Caroline Sculier, Towards a Universal Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty. Strategies, Arguments and Perspectives, p. 13, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Feb. 2010; O.S.C.E.’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, The Death Penalty in the OSCE Area: Background Paper 2011, p. 5, http://www.osce.org/odihr/82896, 2011; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 25, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011; RIA Novosti choice: The top ten events in the Russian judiciary and legal system in 2009, RIA Novosti, http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20100104/157434175.html, Jan. 4, 2010; U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Human Rights Council on its eleventh session, para. 335, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/37, Oct. 16, 2009.
[5] Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 3-P/1999, Feb. 2, 1999; Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Decision No. 1344-O-R/2009, Nov. 19, 2009; Valery Pankrashin, Russia to Decide on Death Penalty Moratorium, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8352090.stm, Nov. 10, 2009; Denis Pinchuk, Russian Court Extends Moratorium on Death Penalty, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLJ330478, Nov. 19, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[6] U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 19 of the Convention, Concluding Observations and Recommendations: Russian Federation, paras. 8, 17, 20-24, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4, Feb. 6, 2007; U.S. Dept. of State, 2010 Human Rights Report: Russia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/eur/154447.htm, Apr. 8, 2011.
[7] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy: Russian Federation, paras. 93-97, A/HRC/11/41/Add.2, Mar. 23, 2009.

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