Open Letter to FIFA Regarding Chechen Human Rights Defender Oyub Titiev
In less than a month, millions of people will turn their eyes upon Russia as the 2018 Football World Cup kicks off. Ahead of the tournament, it is essential that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) starts engaging with the Russian authorities on the human rights crisis in Chechnya. That is the clear message in an open letter signed by Civil Rights Defenders and 13 other international and Russian human rights groups.
“Such engagement is consistent with FIFA’s responsibility to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the letter addressed to Mr. Infantino, President of FIFA, reads. “It is also consistent with the commitment in article 3 of FIFA’s statutes to promote the protection of international human rights, and would demonstrate determination to implement its new Human Rights Policy”.
In January 2018, Chechen authorities started a campaign against the leading Russian human rights organisation Memorial, by jailing prominent human rights defender and head of Memorial’s local office, Oyub Titiev, on fabricated charges. In February, it was announced that the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, was confirmed by FIFA as the team base for Egypt.
With less than a month until the start of this year’s largest sports event, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Civil Rights Defenders is intent on sending a clear message to its organisers: “engage with the Russian authorities on the human rights crisis in Chechnya, in particular on the attack against Titiev and Memorial”.