All publications

UN Human Rights Council: Russia must reform its prison system and put an end to torture

1 countries

The UN Human Rights Council adopted Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes in respect of Russia during its 55th session (February-April 2024).

The adopted text contains a list of recommendations made by UN Member States to the Russian Federation authorities, of which 30 are specifically aimed at solving a wide range of problems affecting the country’s prison system.

Part of these recommendations reflect recent submissions made by EPLN and several of its partners.  


The widespread use of torture in Russian prison led UN States to recommend that the authorities bring their legal framework into line with the UN Convention against Torture, ratify the Optional Protocol thereto, and make torture a separate criminal offence. Effective measures should also be put in place to prevent and combat torture in detention, investigate all reported cases and bring perpetrators to justice

The widespread use of torture and arbitrary detention of civilians in the occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as the illegal deportation of civilians to Russia was also strongly condemned by the recommending States, who urged the Russian authorities to cease such actions immediately.

Russia was also called on to abolish the death penalty de jure.

Last, a number of recommendations aim at bringing the prison system in line with the UN Mandela Rules by improving detention conditions, and developing a system of reintegration of prisoners into the society.

In spite of its scale (as of May 2024 it affected an estimate of 200,000 individuals), the recruitment of prisoners by semi-private military contractors and then by the Russian Ministry of Defence has not been addressed. Neither have the recommending States asked the Russian authorities to alter their restrictive and highly punitive drug policy – two issues which were also extensively covered in our joint reports.

Russia has rejected a large part of the recommendations related to the penitentiary system, especially those coming from the European countries and the US, or recommendations which criticised the current situation of human rights in Russia.