• Topics / Against torture and ill-treatment
• Topics / The right to liberty and security
Crimean puppet regime seeks to amnesty thugs and abductors
Crimea’s puppet government is seeking to remove any liability for the actions of the so-called ‘self-defence’ or paramilitary militia units in beating up and abducting people, or committing other violations, during the first month after Russia effectively invaded and annexed the Crimea.
A draft bill has been registered in the Crimean parliament entitled “On waiving prosecution of people for actions carried out in order to protect public order and defend the interests of the republic of the Crimea” following Russia’s occupation and annexation of the Crimea. It proposes to waive “sanctions, punishments, administrative or criminal liability” with respect to members of the militia, ‘insurgents’ and similar by declaring their actions during the period from Feb 25 to April 11 2014 to have been prompted by ‘extreme necessity’.
If passed, the amnesty will apply to those suspected or charged with offences during that period, or convicted of them. It will also ensure freedom from liability for those, like Sergei Aksyonov, head of the government installed at rifle-point on Feb 27, who were directly responsible for forming and encouraging the activities of the paramilitary units.
The Almenda Centre, quoted by Black Sea News, asked a Russian legal expert, Ivan Novikov for his comments.
He points out that international law does not impose any requirement on specific countries that they prosecute those guilty of rights abuses, however to avoid being found guilty of, for example, violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, a state must: 1) recognize the violation; 2) carry out an investigation and 3) provide proper compensation.
Such amnesties, according to the Russian Constitution, can only be applied by a court or a federal body, which the Crimean parliament is not.
Novikov also points out that torture or murder cannot under any circumstances be classified as acts of extreme necessity. He notes that the draft law does not allow for the victims receiving any compensation or guarantee that the offences will be investigated. It will therefore further strengthen the authorities’ confidence in their own impunity and make it more likely that such behaviour will be repeated.
Among the crimes committed during that period
The murder of Reshat Ametov
39-year-old Reshat Ametov’s body was found on March 15 with signs of torture. He had been abducted while holding a solitary picket in protest at the Russian occupation of the Crimea. There is video footage showing him being seized by men in camouflage gear.
The fact that this crime cannot fall under any amnesty unfortunately means little. Aksyonov has simply denied that militia were involved, and there is no evidence that the murder is being investigated.
There were constant abductions during this period, with some of those released, revealing harrowing accounts of how they were tortured.
Andriy Shchekun, a pro-Ukrainian activist, abducted together with Anatoly Kovalsky, was released on March 20 after disappearing before the so-called Crimean referendum. Shchekun was one of the worst treated, receiving shock pistol wounds to the arms and legs and being put in an electric chair. It is worth noting that Aksyonov effectively admitted that Shchekun and other activists had been abducted on his orders. He claimed, however, that the activist had not been abducted, but ‘detained’ prior to the March 16 ‘referendum’ for what he called “subversive activities”
There were innumerable beatings and other violence against pro-Ukrainian demonstrators or even people speaking Ukrainian in the streets.
Such militia on one particularly shameful occasion ‘defended public order’ against an 82-year-old lady in Feodosia who was trying to explain to the Russian soldiers who had invaded her homeland:
“We don’t need to be defended from anybody.
I’m not afraid.
You understand, fear is the psychology of a slave. “
The people around shouted her down, calling her a “provocateur, then one pushed her so roughly that he knocked her to the ground
The list of violations and crimes committed by those whom the Crimean occupation regime is planning to free from all liability is unfortunately much greater. .