Annual Report: Russian Federation 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Russian Federation 2011

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Across the North Caucasus, law enforcement officials were accused of human rights violations. Accusations included unlawful detention, torture and, in some cases, extrajudicial execution of people suspected of belonging to armed groups. There was a complete lack of effective investigations into these human rights violations and subsequent accountability. Journalists and human rights activists who reported on such violations faced intimidation and harassment.

In its June session, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe discussed the effectiveness of legal mechanisms in addressing human rights violations in the North Caucasus. It called on the Russian authorities to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and abstain from unlawful measures in its fight against armed groups and terrorism.

Chechnya

The relatives of suspected armed fighters continued to allege that they were being targeted. Journalists and civil society organizations faced strict controls and intimidation from the authorities. Government officials hampered investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and unlawful detention when they refused to co-operate with investigative bodies.

  • In February, at least four Chechen civilians were reportedly deliberately killed by law enforcement agencies when picking wild garlic at the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia. The authorities claimed they had killed armed fighters in an operation in a sealed-off territory, but survivors of the group of garlic pickers gave a different account. At least one of the victims was knifed; others were shot at point blank range.
  • In April, Islam Umarpashaev from Grozny was released after being held incommunicado and chained to a radiator since December 2009 in an unknown location by men believed to be members of law enforcement bodies. He was not charged with any crime. His family filed a complaint with the authorities and the European Court of Human Rights regarding his unlawful detention. Islam Umarpashaev, who went into hiding after his release, and his family were put under severe pressure to withdraw their complaints.

In a further sign of increasing restrictions on the freedom of expression of Chechen women, there were several reported instances of women being shot at with paint ball guns apparently for failing to wear headscarves.

Dagestan

According to the authorities, the number of attacks on police and government officials rose by 20 per cent, while Russian human rights organizations reported an increase in arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances. Lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders faced increased attacks and harassment.

  • In June, lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova, was reportedly severely beaten by police officers while visiting a client who was detained at a police station in the city of Khasavyurt. She was subsequently charged with insulting public officials.
  • In July, another lawyer, Dzhamilya Tagirova, was reportedly assaulted by an investigator inside a police station in the capital Makhachkala, when she objected to the misrepresentation of her client's statements in the interview record drawn up by the officer.

Two more female lawyers from Dagestan were reportedly assaulted by law enforcement officers in the course of fulfilling their duties as legal representatives.

  • On 3 June 2010, the Supreme Court of Dagestan sentenced Rasil Mamedrizaev to 15 years' imprisonment for the murder of Farid Babaev, head of the Dagestan branch of the party "Yabloko". Farid Babaev, who had highlighted many human rights violations in Dagestan and had stood for election to the Russian parliament, was shot in November 2007.
  • In July, 14-year-old Makhmud Akhmedov was detained by police. He stated he had been held overnight in police custody and was tortured and otherwise ill-treated in order to extract a confession of having stolen an electric drill. A criminal investigation was opened, and four police officers charged in December.

Ingushetia

Despite efforts by the President of Ingushetia to promote dialogue with independent human rights organizations, serious human rights violations continued and journalists and human rights activists continued to face threats and attacks.