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The life of two Jehovah’s Witnesses under threat in prison

An emergency application was filed yesterday, 9 August, with the European court to save the life of Anatoliy Isakov and Aleksandr Lubin, categorized as “degree II disabled persons” and currently in custody

HRWF with JW.ORG (11.08.2021) – On 9 August, an application was filed with the European Court of Human Rights to save the lives of two elderly Jehovah’s Witnesses in custody since mid-July who suffer from very serious diseases.

The Court may, under Rule 39 of its Rules of Court, indicate interim measures to any State party to the Convention. Interim measures are urgent measures which, in accordance with the established practice of the Court, apply only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage. This is the case with Mr. Isakov (born in 1964) and Mr Lubin (born in 1956).

 

The background

On July 13 and 14 2021, a total of 13 raids took place in the cities of Kurgan and Shadrinsk, Kurgan Region. The raids occurred within the framework of criminal cases under Article 282.2 (1) and (2) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organizing the activity of an extremist organization and participating in it) against several Jehovah’s Witnesses. After the raids, at least five of them were detained. The Kurgan City Court ruled to place Aleksandr Lubin and Anatoliy Isakov in pre-trial detention for two months.

The Russian Supreme Court banned the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in April 2017, leading to a campaign of terror against the Witnesses. Since early 2018, authorities throughout Russia have been arresting and imprisoning Witnesses for practicing their faith – whether meeting together for worship, reading the Bible, or talking to others about their faith.

 

The case of Mr Isakov

Mr. Isakov is categorized as “degree II disabled person” and suffers from very serious diseases, including multiple myeloma (malignant tumor) and multiple compression fractures of the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, as well as five rib fractures, among other illnesses.

Despite these conditions, the court took Mr. Isakov into custody based on a doctor’s certificate which stated that he did not have any diseases that could prevent him from being held in custody. While in the custody, he is expected to perform various types of physical labor and will likely be deprived of his medications. All this creates a high risk to his health and life and is comparable to torture.

On July 19, 2021, Mr. Isakov’s lawyer filed a complaint against the erroneous medical conclusion, an appeal against the court’s ruling to place him in detention, and an application with the head of the pre-trial detention center requesting to ensure his right to proper medical treatment. The lawyer attached 17 certificates from various medical institutions proving his serious health condition. As a result, on July 23, 2021, Mr. Isakov was transferred to the Medical Correctional Facility of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Kurgan Region. However, he is officially still in custody and can return to his cell.

His lawyer also submitted another motion to the Kurgan City Court requesting immediate release from the pre-trial detention facility. The motion requested an expedited medical examination with the intent to determine if he is suffering from diseases included in the list approved by the decree of the Russian government #3 from 14.01.2011. Unfortunately, the judge of the Kurgan City Court refused to consider this motion and, as a result, there is no ruling which can be appealed.

On July 28, 2021, the Kurgan Regional Court was scheduled to consider the appeal against the lower court’s decision to place him in custody, which had been filed on July 19, 2021. The case was not considered, because the medical-correctional institution did not allow his participation in the trial; he had been placed in quarantine because of his high temperature and the suspicion of having contracted COVID-19. Official analysis later showed a darkening of his lungs.

The court session was first postponed to August 4, 2021, and then later to August 6, 2021. At this hearing, the appellate court canceled the ruling of the court of first instance and made exactly the same ruling; to remain in custody. Isakov’s attorney attached to the case file a medical examination which makes the conclusion that he should not be in a detention center because of suffering from serious illnesses. Isakov attended this court hearing via video conference and was observed to be in very poor physical condition.

The case of Mr. Lubin

Mr Lubin is categorized as “degree II disabled person” and suffers from very serious diseases, including hypertonia, Raynaud’s syndrome, and progressive systemic sclerosis with damage to various organs. In addition to his medications, he must take humidified oxygen for 16 hours each day. In 2020 alone, he was hospitalized for treatment three times. It is difficult for him even to walk, and when he falls down, he needs the help of others to get up. He suffers constant pain in various parts of his body.

Despite these conditions, the court took Mr. Lubin into custody based on a doctor’s certificate which stated that he did not have any diseases that could prevent him from being held in custody. While in the custody, he is expected to perform various types of physical labor and will likely be deprived of his medications. All this creates a high risk to his health and life and is comparable to torture.

On July 20, Mr. Lubin’s lawyer filed a complaint against the erroneous medical conclusion, an appeal against the court’s ruling to place him in detention, and an application with the head of the pre-trial detention center requesting to ensure his right to proper medical treatment. The lawyer attached 20 certificates from various medical institutions proving his serious health condition. As a result, on July 23, 2021, Mr. Lubin was transferred to the Medical Correctional Facility of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Kurgan Region. However, he is officially still in custody and can return to his cell.

On 28 July 2021, the attorney filed a separate motion to the Kurgan City Court requesting immediate release of Mr. Lubin from the pre-trial detention center but it was ignored by the City Court. The motion requested an expedited medical examination with the intent to determine if he is suffering from diseases included in the list approved by the decree of the Russian government #3 from 14.01.2011.

Photo: The European Court – Strasbourg France

Further reading about FORB in Russia on HRWF website

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