06 April 2010, 22:30

Opinions on the idea to punish parents for terrorists' crimes diverge

After the terror acts in Moscow metro on March 29, the Russian society started discussing the idea of punishing terrorists' parents. Supporters of this idea believe that the family shall be responsible for the acts of its member, while opponents are sure that innocent persons shall not be punished.

Supporters of the idea: family should respond for acts of its member who decided to become a militant

The issue of punishing terrorists' parents for "bringing up" such children was raised several days ago in the programme "Advocate's Hour" at the Radio Station "Moscow Broadcasts". Lawyer Ruben Markaryan, editor-in-chief of the information-legal portal "Zakoniya.Ru", asked listeners to speak out to the topic.

As reported by the portal, the majority of the debaters supported the opinion of one of listeners that the whole family should be responsible for the acts of its member who decided to become a militant, as the Islam says that children respond for the acts of their parents. Listeners recollected the unique Israeli experience of the war on terror, when the family of a terrorist was evicted from the native house, and the latter was ruined by a bulldozer. If shahids have no fear of their death, the threat to their relatives may cool the "hot blood", the participants of the programme have assumed, as the "NEWSru.com" writes.

In parallel to the radio programme, participants shared their opinions in the blogs of the portal. Thus, Roman Agapov, deputy chair of the government of the Moscow Region, agreed that "the terrorist's house should be ruined to the ground level."

Ruben Markaryan, editor-in-chief of the "Zakoniya.Ru", said, in his turn, that he saw nothing terrible in opening a criminal case against terrorist's parents. "I don't offer to put parents of the suicide bomber behind bars; I suggest clearing out whether they contributed to his or her becoming a criminal by their upbringing. The responsibility is offered not for what the child had made but for inadequate education, which entailed heavy consequences. The court will clear out, and if parents were not indirect helpers of the tragic events, the charge will be lifted. How otherwise can we teach people thinking whom they help: a dear relative or a gunman?" the lawyer asked on air.

One of the most radical opinions was expressed by Natalia Slyusar, deputy editor-in-chief of the "Zakoniya.Ru" and 3rd Class State Adviser of Justice. She believes that the destiny of militants' relatives can be given into the hands of their neighbours - those who live with them in one village.

"The law on crime prevention assumes civil liability of the relatives who took part in bringing up children-terrorists, in order to prevent further crimes. These are sort of comrades' court trying militants' parents. Since their actions usually have group and quite often family character, let fellow villagers convict terrorist's relatives, pass a verdict and, for example, evict these relatives out of the village," Natalia Slyusar writes.

"We have 'Soviet-time' experience, when from the warm Caucasus the criminal's family was exiled somewhere to Magadan to work at some hazardous production. There are also publications in mass media. And, certainly, some liability is a must. Parents should take part in compensating the financial damage caused to the terror act victims together with the main criminal. In case their guilt is proved," the deputy editor-in-chief has concluded.

Opponents of the collective criminal liability of terrorists' relatives: innocent should not be imprisoned

In the course of discussion, there were many persons who disagreed with the advocates of punishing terrorists' parents for "wrong bringing up their children." Professor Victor Blazheyev, a specialist in the area of the civil procedural law and Rector of the Kutafin Moscow State Legal Academy, spoke in his blog in the portal categorically against introduction of relatives' responsibility for militants' actions. "Only the culprit should be responsible. Why should we close the circle and demand collective criminal liability? The environment is innocent, if it killed nobody," the professor wrote.

Professor Tatiana Moskalkova, Doctor of Law, Major-General and Deputy Chair of Committee of the State Duma on CIS Matters and links with Compatriots, supports this approach and repeated the well-known formula: "Father is not responsible for his son."

Among those who "disagree" there was Ara Abramyan, a UNESCO's Goodwill Ambassador, President of the World Armenian Congress, President of the Union of Russian Armenians and a member of the commission of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation for interethnic relations and freedom of worship: "To respond for some other person? Then, we need to sue also the state, in fact, it's also bringing up its citizens, to sue the kindergarten, school, factory, etc. Terror deserves no pardon. But still, innocent persons should not sit in prison. Now, it's not the time to hurry up with emotions and punishments; let us strengthen the control by the state over bringing up children in family; and then let us start asking from parents."

Terrorists' relatives are punished in Chechnya for long, observers say

Let us note here that President of Russia Dmitri Medvedev suggested, when meeting leaders of State Duma parties on April 5, to toughen the criminal liability of terrorists' helpers.

"On terrorist crimes we need such a model, when anyone who helps - no matter what he or she does: cooking soup or washing clothes, - he or she is not just a criminal, but the one committing a finished crime. At committing such crimes, no indulgence should be admitted depending on the roles: who runs there with a Berdan rifle or cooking soup for militants," the "Rossiiskaya Gazeta quotes Mr Medvedev as saying.

Earlier, activists of some Chechen NGOs said that relatives of terrorists-suicide bombers, who blew themselves in the republic last year, may face retaliatory and repressive actions.

After a suicide bomber blew himself up in Grozny in the end of last July, his mother's house was burnt down; and she and some other close relatives of that terrorist disappeared. The "Caucasian Knot" correspondent learnt about it from a local human rights activist who added that power agencies were openly using the principle of collective responsibility in relation to militants' relatives.

Residents of Chechnya assert that the tactics of power agencies infighting against suspected members of the illegal armed underground does not vary: the methods they use include pressure on relatives, threats and arsons of houses.

The practice of destructing houses of relatives of participants of armed formations and the ban to commemorate liquidated militants are in force in Chechnya for several years and among the methods, by which President Ramzan Kadyrov wants to deprive the armed underground of the population's support. He repeatedly stated that relatives of members of armed formations should bear responsibility for their actions.

The facts of this sort and the growth of kidnappings in Chechnya were openly reported by the well-known Chechen human rights defender Natalia Estemirova, shortly before her kidnapping and murder on July 15 this year.

The fact of burning down houses of militants' relatives in Chechnya was earlier recognized by the Human Rights Watch. The Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" also informed about it and noted that arsons were made with approval of the authorities of Chechnya.

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