1. The author is Mrs. Yuliya
Vasilyevna Telitsina, acting on behalf of her son, Vladimir Nikolayevich
Telitsin, a Russian citizen born in 1959 who died on 13 February 1994 during
his detention in a correctional labour centre. The author claims that the
Russian Federation has violated article 6, paragraph 1, article 7 and
article 10, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. The author is represented by the Centre of Assistance for
THE FACTS AS SUBMITTED BY THE AUTHOR
2.1 On 13 February 1994, Vladimir Nikolayevich Telitsin died as a result of
acts of violence while serving a sentence in Correctional Labour Centre No.
349/5, in the town of Nizhny Tagil, in the Urals.
2.2 The author says that her son was brutally beaten, hung by a wire and
left hanging inside the compound of the Centre. She disputes the view taken
by the Correctional Centre authorities and the Nizhny Tagil procurator's
office that the death was suicide. She also alleges that in the expert
report these authorities deliberately glossed over the violent acts
committed against her son. She claims to have seen in person, at the
funeral, how her son's body had been mutilated - his nose had been broken
and was hanging limply, a piece of flesh had been torn from the right side
of his chin, his brow was swollen on the right, blood was coming out of his
right ear, the palm of his right hand had been grazed and was a dark purple
colour, his spine and back were damaged and his tongue was missing. The
author has produced a petition signed by 11 persons who attended the
funeral, confirming the condition of the deceased's body as reported above.
2.3 The author requested the Nizhny municipal procurator's office to
investigate the circumstances of her son's death. On 13 April 1994, the
procurator's office told the author that there was no evidence to support
her claims that her son had died as a result of acts of violence, and that
it had therefore decided not to initiate criminal proceedings. The author
appealed against this decision on three occasions (on 26 April 1994, 20 June
1994 and 1 August 1994), but these appeals were rejected by the Sverdlovsk
regional procurator's office in its decisions of 25 May 1994, 30 June 1994
and 31 August 1994, respectively.
2.4 The author also applied to have her son's body exhumed in order to
obtain a second opinion, as the conclusions of the initial expert report
had, according to Mrs. Telitsina, failed to mention the injuries described
above. On 27 October 1994, the Nizhny Tagil procurator's office told the
author that any exhumation was subject to the initiation of criminal
proceedings, under article 180 of the Criminal Code of the Russian
Federation. In the case in point, the author's request could not be met,
according to the procurator's office, as the decision of 13 April 1994 by
the Nizhny Tagil procurator's office was under review by the Procurator
General of the Russian Federation, following an appeal lodged by Mrs.
2.5 On 11 October 1994, the Procurator General of the Russian Federation set
aside the decision not to initiate criminal proceedings on the grounds that
the circumstances of Mr. Telitsin's death had not been fully examined. He
also ordered that all the evidence in the case should be sent to the
Sverdlovsk regional procurator's office so that it could carry out
2.6 On 14 November 1994, upon completion of this expert report, the
Sverdlovsk procurator's office decided not to initiate criminal proceedings
and therefore not to exhume the deceased's body. On 7 August 1995 and 10
November 1995, the Sverdlovsk procurator's office informed Mrs. Telitsina
that her son's death was the result of a suicidal act provoked by
"deviations of a mental nature" and that the injuries the author claimed to
have seen on the deceased's body had not been found.
2.7 Following complaints by the author, on 21 September 1995 and 27 February
1996, the Procurator General of the Russian Federation informed her that a
thorough investigation had been carried out into the circumstances of her
son's death, that her allegations of facial injuries to the deceased had
been refuted by the conclusions of the forensic medical report and by
statements made by prison staff and prisoners and that the death was the
result of suicide.
2.8 According to the author, the examinations carried out were superficial,
particularly since the body had not been exhumed, so that the suicide theory
advanced by the authorities was invalid.
3.1 The author claims that the above facts show a violation by the Russian
Federation of article 6, paragraph 1, article 7 and article 10, paragraph 1,
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
3.2 The author also asserts that all available remedies for the purpose of
having criminal proceedings initiated and obtaining a proper expert opinion
on the causes of her son's death have been exhausted, as explained above.
OBSERVATIONS BY THE STATE PARTY
4.1 In its observations of 10 August 2000, the State party explains that the
Office of the Procurator General of the Russian Federation conducted an
inquiry into the events relating to this communication.
4.2 From this inquiry, it appears that, according to the report of the
forensic medical expert, Mr. Telitsin's death occurred following mechanical
suffocation resulting from a slip knot tightening around the organs of the
neck. An inspection of the scene of the incident and the body of the
deceased showed no signs of a struggle. In the course of the inquiry,
particularly when the Office of the Procurator General studied the evidence
in the case, special attention was paid to photographs of the deceased,
which also showed no sign of physical injury. A superficial graze in the
area of the chin could have been caused by a sharp instrument just before,
or in the throes of, death. The graze had no causal relationship with the
death. In the investigative part of the report, the forensic medical expert
points out that there were no injuries to the bones of the fornix or the
base of the skull. The State party sees no reason to doubt this conclusion.
4.3 Moreover, the medical expert points out that it has been established
that the footprints in the snow that led to the scene of the incident were
those of a single person. According to the State party, the deceased was not
in conflict with other prisoners or with prison staff. The results of the
inquiry therefore corroborate the conclusion of suicide. The State party
points out that the request for criminal proceedings to be initiated had
been rejected in the absence of a corpus delicti and that the decision had
been endorsed by the Office of the Procurator General of the Russian
COMMENTS BY THE AUTHOR ON THE STATE PARTY'S OBSERVATIONS
5.1 In her comments of 25 October 2000, the author says that the State party
has not taken into account her assertions - which are neither refuted nor
confirmed - that her son's body displayed a large number of injuries, as
confirmed by 11 witnesses at the funeral (see para. 2.2). The author wonders
whether the refusal to exhume the body and to analyse the photographs does
not show that the Office of the Procurator General is covering up the murder
of her son. She adds that the authorities have no photographs showing the
place and manner of her son's hanging, which left him covered in blood and
disfigured, but only a rough pencil drawing. Finally, she states that her
son's file contains photographs of someone whose face is not that of
Vladimir Nikolayevich Telitsin.
5.2 In her comments of 6 July 2001, the author once again rejects the theory
of suicide and claims that her son was killed by guards from the
Correctional Centre. She also maintains that the photographs mentioned above
are a montage that was prepared after she had complained, since they show an
injury on the left side of the chin, whereas it was actually on the
right-hand side, as described above and confirmed by witnesses. The author
repeats her demand to have the photographs analysed. Finally, Mrs. Telitsina
states that she was never permitted to read the medical report.
ISSUES AND PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMITTEE
6.1 Before considering any claims contained in a communication, the Human
Rights Committee must, in accordance with rule 87 of its rules of procedure,
decide whether or not it is admissible under the Optional Protocol to the
6.2 The Committee notes that the State party has not raised any objections
with regard to the admissibility of the communication and that the author
has exhausted all available domestic remedies.
6.3 The Committee also considers that the author's complaint that the events
she has described constitute violations of article 6, paragraph 1, article 7
and article 10, paragraph 1, of the Covenant has been sufficiently
substantiated for the purposes of admissibility and that it deserves to be
considered on the merits.
CONSIDERATION OF THE MERITS
7.1 The Human Rights Committee has considered the present communication in
the light of all the information made available to it by the parties, in
accordance with article 5, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol.
7.2 The Committee has examined all the information provided by both the
author and the State party on Mr. Telitsin's death.
7.3 It notes that the State party maintains the theory of suicide on the
basis of the report by the forensic medical expert, an inspection of the
scene of the incident, a study of the photographs of the deceased and
statements by prison staff and prisoners. It also takes note of the author's
arguments rebutting the suicide explanation, particularly the absence of
photographs of the place and manner of her son's death by hanging and the
production by the authorities of photographs that Mrs. Telitsina claims have
7.4 The Committee observes that the State party has not responded to all the
arguments put forward by the author in her communication. In particular, the
State party has not commented on the testimony of 11 persons who attended
Mr. Telitsin's funeral (cf. para. 2.2). Nor has the State party produced any
document to support its assertion that the photographs of the deceased show
no sign of physical injury except for a graze on the chin (cf. para. 4.2),
despite the specific allegations made by the author about her son's
mutilated body. Finally, the Committee takes note of the claim that the
author was not permitted to read the medical report and also of the failure
to exhume the body of the deceased.
7.5 The Committee regrets that the State party did not respond to or provide
the necessary clarification on all the arguments put forward by the author.
As far as the burden of proof is concerned, the Committee, in accordance
with its jurisprudence, considers that the burden of proof cannot rest
solely with the author of the communication, especially when the author and
the State party do not have equal access to the evidence and when the State
party is often in sole possession of the relevant information, such as the
medical report in the case in point.
7.6 Consequently, the Committee cannot do otherwise than accord due weight
to the author's arguments in respect of her son's body as it was handed over
to the family, which raise questions about the circumstances of his death.
The Committee notes that the authorities of the State party have not carried
out a proper investigation into Mr. Telitsin's death, in violation of
article 6, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.
7.7 In view of the findings under article 6, paragraph 1, of the Covenant,
the Committee finds that there was a violation of article 7, as well as of
the provisions of article 10, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.
8. The Human Rights Committee, acting under article 5, paragraph 4, of the
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, finds that the State party violated article 6, paragraph 1, article
7 and article 10, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.
9. Pursuant to article 2, paragraph 3 (a), of the Covenant, the Committee
considers that the author, who has lost her son, is entitled to an effective
remedy. The Committee invites the State party to take effective measures (a)
to conduct an appropriate, thorough and transparent inquiry into the
circumstances of the death of Mr. Vladimir Nikolayevich Telitsin; and (b) to
grant the author appropriate compensation. The State party is, moreover,
under an obligation to take effective measures to ensure that similar
violations do not occur again.
10. The Committee recalls that, by becoming a party to the Optional
Protocol, the Russian Federation has recognized the competence of the
Committee to determine whether there has been a violation of the Covenant or
not and that, under article 2 of the Covenant, the State party has
undertaken to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to
its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the Covenant and to provide an
effective and enforceable remedy when a violation has been established.
Consequently, the Committee wishes to receive from the State party, within
90 days of the transmission of these findings, information about the
measures taken to give effect to the Committee's Views. The State party is
also requested to publish the Committee's Views.
[Adopted in English, French and Spanish, the original text being the French
version. Subsequently to be issued also in Arabic, Chinese and Russian, as
part of the Committee's annual report to the General Assembly.]