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For Immediate Release

In-Custody Death in Moscow Due to Calculated and Deliberate Neglect and Inhumane Treatment

PHR releases first independent medical evaluation of Magnitsky case and calls for an independent investigation into lawyer’s death

Cambridge, Mass. - 07/18/2011

>> Read the Report

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an independent organization that uses the integrity of medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations against individuals, today announced that during his time in Russian police custody, Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year old Russian anti-corruption lawyer, suffered calculated and deliberate neglect and inhumane treatment which ultimately led to his death.

PHR calls for the Russian government to accept responsibility for the torture, medical neglect and substandard prison conditions that caused Mr. Magnitsky’s death.

"From the day he was arrested until the day he died, Mr. Magnitsky received inadequate medical evaluation and treatment," said PHR’s forensic expert pathologist Dr. Robert C. Bux. "This calculated, deliberate and inhumane neglect undoubtedly led to his death and a criminal investigation must be launched leading to arrests and prosecution. Mr. Magnitsky’s family deserves to finally have some justice."

PHR addressed its appeal for an independent investigation to the UN General Secretary, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Chair of the OSCE, US Secretary of State, leaders of the US Congress, and President of the European Council, among others. PHR has also called upon the Russian government to accept responsibility under the UN Anti-torture Convention for the torture, medical neglect and inhumane conditions that caused Mr. Magnitsky’s death.

"Documentation in this case overwhelmingly points towards torture and deliberate medical neglect," said Stefan Schmitt, PHR’s International Forensic Program Director. "The real question is why no criminal investigation has been launched against those responsible for his imprisonment and the conditions which led to his death."

PHR's report is the first independent medical evaluation in Mr Magnitsky’s case.

The report concludes that:

  • Mr. Magnitsky suffered prolonged severe pain, was denied regular contact with his family, denied medical evaluations for his complaints, fed meals irregularly, and kept under inhumane conditions.
  • The official Russian autopsy protocol (on which all subsequent Russian medical studies were based) was inconsistent with best international practice and deviated significantly from standard US protocols.
  • Tissues from injuries found on Magnitsky’s body after his death were not removed during the autopsy and their forensic analysis has not been carried out.

PHR’s report is based on a review of official documents made available through the victim’s mother.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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