UN Human Rights Experts call on Russia to probe abuse allegations, protect rights of Chechens

Experts of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights have called on the Russian Federation to investigate allegations of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, torture and violence against women in Chechnya.

In an urgent appeal launched on 3 March, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy; the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Kapil Sibal; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Sir Nigel Rodley, cite information they have received regarding:

  • the alleged extrajudicial execution, by Russian troops, of numerous civilians during military operations or raids and searches of villages;allegations concerning the rape of Chechen women by Russian soldiers during or following army operations;
  • alleged arbitrary detention, without warrant or charges, of an undisclosed but large number of Chechen civilians, in their majority males, in several internment or "filtration camps", such as the camp of Chernokosovo;
  • reported widespread torture and ill-treatment of those held in internment camps, including women and adolescents, or those suspected of collaboration with Chechen rebels; thus, it has been reported that persons detained in "filtration camps" are subjected, in particular during interrogation, to torture and other forms of ill-treatment, including rape and other forms of sexual abuse, beatings with rubber truncheons and metal hammers, being stripped naked and left in cold and damp cells. it is alleged that detainees are at times forced to stand up with their hands raised for entire days, and that cells are regularly sprayed with tear gas. finally, it is alleged that the bodies of Chechen men who had been executed extrajudicially by members of the Russian armed forces at times bore distinct marks of torture or ill-treatment, and
  • continuing forced displacement of the civilian population and related concerns as set out in the statement of the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons of 21 December 1999. Recent reports indicate that some 300,000 persons have fled the conflict and are internally displaced within Chechnya and in the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan, Northern Ossetia and other parts of the Russian Federation. In particular, there are concerns regarding the situation of those displaced in the Argun Gorge.

The experts appeal to the Russian Government to provide information regarding the reports of abuses and to ensure that the right to life, the right to physical and mental integrity and the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention of the population of Chechnya are protected.