ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2015.06.22

View Adopted: 2019.07.25

Semen Sbornov v. Russia

Russian national subjected to torture and forced to confess, violation of article 7 and 14

Substantive Issues
  • Self-incrimination
  • Torture / ill-treatment
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14.3 (g)
  • Article 2.3
  • Article 5.2 (b) - OP1
  • Article 7
Full Text


The author is a national of the Russian Federation who claimed that the state party violated his rights under article 7, read alone and in conjunction with article 2 (3), and 14 (3) (g) of the Covenant.

In January 2013 the author was apprehended by three police officers as he was suspected of having inflicted bodily harm on an individual who died as a result. The author was brought to a local police state station where police officer named V. closed the door, while another officer started kicking him on the arms and feet. Following this, he was handcuffed and was tied tightly with a rope and kept in a very uncomfortable position for an hour and a half. During that time, V. kicked him on his back and in the area of his kidneys, demanding that he confess guilt. As a result, the author suffered moral damages including physical pain in the area of his back, arms and head. The author signed all documents put in front of him without reading them.

Later, the prosecutor refused to open a case into the beating in the light of the absence of corpus. In April 2014, an appeal was filed with the district court which was refused. 


The author claimed that his rights under article 7 of the Covenant, read in conjunction with article 2 (3), have been violated since the State party must assure an effective remedy in torture cases. The author also claimed that his rights under article 14 (3) (g) of the Covenant have been violated because the police subjected him to torture in order to force him to confess guilt for a crime he did not commit.


The Committee noted that the state party had not refuted any of the allegations directly; instead, it has denied the author’s torture allegations in general. In the absence of any other information or argumentation of pertinence on file, the Committee concluded that the facts as presented by the author reveal a violation of his rights under article 7, read alone and in conjunction with article 2 (3). The Committee further concluded that the facts also amounted to a violation of the author’s rights under article 14 (3) (g).


Pursuant to article 2(3) (a) of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy, including making full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is obligated to:

  • conduct a thorough and effective investigation into the author’s allegations of torture and, if confirmed, prosecute, try and punish those responsible;
  • release the author, quash the author’s trial court verdicts and, if necessary, conduct a new trial with all fair trial guarantees.
  • provide the authors with adequate compensation.
  • take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.
  • publish the present views of the Committee in the official language of the state party.

Separate Opinions

Individual opinion of Committee member José Manuel Santos Pais (dissenting)

  • Committee member José Manuel Santos Pais decided not to join the majority on the basis that he could not find a violation.

  • Santos Pais argued that it has been the standing case law of the Committee that it is for the courts of States parties to evaluate the facts and the evidence in each case, or the application of domestic legislation, unless the evaluation is manifestly arbitrary or amounts to a denial of justice, and argued that the majority did not follow this precedent in this case.

  • Santos Pais argued that on the basis that the were contradictory elements to the facts presented, that he could not see how the Committee could reach the conclusion that due weight needed to be given to the author's allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and did not find a violation. 


The Committee requested that the state party provide an update outlining measures taken to give effect to the Committee's views within 180 days, or prior to 25 January 2020.

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