Russian Authorities Must Protect Human Rights Defenders in Chechnya
Civil Rights Defenders is extremely concerned by yesterday’s violent attack against the Committee Against Torture’s Joint Mobile Group (JMG) in Chechnya and demand that the Russian State fully investigates the attack.
The attack was instigated by a group of masked men wielding with hammers, bats and angle grinders who then began smashing one of JMG’s vehicles, The rampage continued as they succeeded in forcibly entering and subsequently thrashing their premises.The whole episode lasted for over one a half hours. Despite repeated phone calls to the Police as the attack was taking place, they failed to react. Two staff members who were also in the office at the time but managed to flee through a back window. Following the attack Chechen media which is fully controlled by the authorities began publishing inaccurate information about the incident.
This is the second such attack against the JMG during in only six months. In December 2014, their office was destroyed in an arson attack, and a subsequent raid by the Chechen police resulted in computers and cameras being confiscated. Two staff members were also briefly detained. These events were connected to an official complaint enacted by Igor Kalyapin, Head of the Committee Against Torture and filed against Russia’s top law enforcement bodies. This action resulted in a smear campaign against him where he was accused of channeling money from western intelligence agencies to militants. Eggs were also thrown at him during a press conference in Moscow.
“The situation for human rights defenders in Chechnya is extremely tough at the moment and this is but one example, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders. We demand that the Russian authorities immediately conduct a thorough investigation into the attack and respect their international obligations to protect human rights defenders.”
JMG is a long-term partner of Civil Rights Defenders and consists of human rights defenders from different parts of Russia who investigate the most sensitive cases of human rights abuses in Chechnya.