Violent Attacks on Human Rights Organisation and Journalists

Civil Rights Defenders strongly condemns the violent attacks on our partner, The Joint Mobile Group, and six journalists from Sweden, Norway and Russia. At the time of one of the attacks six journalists from Sweden, Norway and Russia were travelling together with our colleagues towards Grozny, and they were also subjected to violence by the attackers.

Human rights defenders and journalists in the North Caucasus region work under constant pressure and threat of violence. They are subjected to a smear campaign and labeled as traitors by the authorities, not least the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. These unacceptable attempts to silence an internationally renowned human rights organisation and one of the few remaining independent voices in the region must stop.

Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned by an ongoing campaign by the Russian authorities to silence human rights defenders and journalists. The March 9 attacks are not single episodes of violence, but rather the latest examples of a series of violent attacks over the last years. The Joint Mobile Group has been violently attacked twice in Chechnya. None of the previous attacks have been investigated properly, and there are strong indications that the attacks were sponsored by the authorities. We urge the Swedish government to demand from Russian authorities that an independent investigation will explore both who the attackers were, and if they acted on orders from any national or regional entity.

The Joint Mobile Group (JMG) was set up in 2009 by Civil Rights Defenders partner the Committee Against Torture, following the murder of renowned human rights defender Natalia Estemirova whose core mission was to investigate serious human rights abuses in Chechnya. The group, consisting of Russian human rights defenders from outside of Chechnya, investigates the most sensitive cases of human rights abuses, too dangerous to take on for local activists.

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