Council of Europes Human Rights Commissioner: Remand prisoners are being tortured in Chechnya
The Council of Europes Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg states that he has heard evidence from remand prisoners in Chechnya alleging the use against them of physical force. He informed the President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov of this during a meeting on 27 February.
“I became convinced today that people are not only being beaten, but also tortured and through torture forced to sign confessions to crimes they didnt commit”, Thomas Hammarberg said. “Some complain to the management, but then they are treated even worse”. He stressed that this is “an entire system, and not just isolated cases”.
Thomas Hammarberg said that he had come to such a conclusion after visiting an investigation isolation [detention] centre [SIZO] where he had spoken to remand prisoners in three cells.
Kadyrov responded by claiming that human rights were only violated in the ORB-2 [operational investigation bureau) of the Central Department for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Southern Federal District. “I have repeatedly raised the subject of human rights being violated within that structure, however my demands for order to be established have been treated like an attempt to subjugate the division.”, he stated.
The newspaper “Kommersant” explains that ORB-2 is the only police structure in Chechnya which is not under Kadyrovs control and he has therefore long being trying to get it withdrawn from the republic.
“If Im asked what to do with that structure, Ill say that Ill try to find those guilty and establish order”, Kadyrov said. In response, Hammerberg stated: “I will be meeting in Moscow with representatives of the Federal authorities and will inform them of this situation.”
Kadyrov also claimed that such issues do not arise with other enforcement and law enforcement agencies placed in Chechnya.
The Human Rights Commissioner has agreed to take part in a human rights conference to be held on 1 March in Grozny at the initiative of the Chechen authorities. Invitations to attend the forum have been turned down by Russian human rights activists, including the Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Ludmila Alexeeva, the Director of the Civic Assistance Committee Svetlana Gannushkina, the Head of the human rights movement “For Human Rights” Lev Ponomaryov, as well as the leaders of other organizations. In their joint statement, they say that “the territory of the Chechen republic remains a place of mass flagrant human rights violations, including extra-judicial executions, abductions and torture, corruption and extortion of humanitarian aid and compensation”.
Caucasian Knot (www.kavkaz.memo.ru ) reports that representatives of leading nongovernmental organizations of Chechnya and Ingushetia say that Thomas Hammerberg has yet to meet with local human rights activists.