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RUSSIA: lawyer Bakhrom Khamroev subjected to ill-treatment in prison

15 March 2024


Bakhrom Khamroev is a Russian lawyer and human rights activist. He is a member of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” and is on the Russian government’s list of political opponents. Repeatedly targeted by the authorities, he is now subjected to ill-treatment in detention.

Mr Khamroev provides legal assistance to migrant workers from Central Asia in Russia, as well as to Uzbek political refugees persecuted for their civil and political activism and their religious beliefs.

Bakhrom Khamroev was intimidated several times by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Sentenced to a year and a half in prison on charges of “drug possession”, with no evidence, in a trial that appears to have violated his right to a fair trial, he was released on parole. Since then, the judicial harassment against him has intensified. In 2016, his home was searched by the FSB. His documents were seized, and the lawyer was summoned for questioning.

Further charges were brought against Bakhrom Khamroev in 2018. The lawyer was accused of “illegally participating in the fictitious registration of residence of foreign nationals”.

Bakhrom Khamroev was arrested on 24 February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for “justifying terrorist acts on the internet” and “participating in the activities of a terrorist organisation”.

Regarding the conviction, Mr Khamroev appealed on the grounds that the decision was unlawful and insufficiently justified, and that his fundamental rights had been violated. His sentence was slightly reduced by three months.

Since December 2023, Bakhrom Khamroev has been incarcerated in Vladimirskiy central prison.

The lawyer was beaten in prison and these acts of violence were covered up by the authorities. Following this, his lawyers were prevented from meeting their client in prison for almost a week. A complaint has been filed by the lawyers.

Mr Khamroev faces flagrant violations of his rights in detention. In particular, he has reportedly been deprived of his right to read books and exercise his religion. He was also reportedly sent to a disciplinary cell following unjustified accusations of violating the prison’s internal regulations.


The Observatory strongly condemns the acts of ill-treatment perpetrated against the lawyer Bakhrom Khamroev by the Russian authorities.

The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the violations of Bakhrom Khamroev’s rights in detention.

The Observatory recalls the principle of the prohibition of acts of violence against prisoners in article 16, paragraph 1, of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which states that “Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to comply with General Comment No. 22 of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[1], according to which: “Persons already subject to certain legitimate constraints, such as prisoners, continue to enjoy their rights to manifest their religion or belief to the fullest extent compatible with the specific nature of the constraint.”

Finally, the Observatory recalls that, in accordance with the United Nations basic principles on the role of the Bar, in particular principles 16, 17 and 23:

Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (…)”

Principle 17: “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”

Principle 23: Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.”


[1] Human Rights Committee, General Comment adopted under article 40, paragraph 4, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, 27 September 1993, online.