15 July 2010, 10:00
Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) Report, Chechnya Fact-Finding Mission
All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) Report, Chechnya Fact-Finding Mission
15-19 February 2010
Delegates: Lord Frank Judd (Labour), Jo Swinson MP (Liberal Democrat)
All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG)
Houses of Parliament
Following the PHRG Mission to Chechnya from 15 to 19 February, this report will set out the findings of the PHRG delegates, Lord Frank Judd, Labour Peer and former Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Special Envoy on Chechnya 1999-2003, and Jo Swinson MP, Liberal Democrat and former Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, on the current human rights situation in Chechnya under the Presidency of Ramzan Kadyrov, as well as their recommendations for action by the international community.
This report is dedicated to the memory of the human rights defender Natalia Estemirova who was kidnapped in Grozny and brutally murdered on 15 July 2009. Her courage and dedication to the people of Chechnya continues to inspire members of the All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group, with whom she worked before her death, to raise awareness of the terrible human rights violations and systemic impunity which blights the lives of so many in Chechnya today.
Shiny new schools, cranes busy with construction, a gleaming and impressive new Mosque - at first glance Grozny appears to be getting back on its feet after the appalling civil war of the 1990s.
However the distressed mother in front of us told a very different story. Clad in a thick black woollen coat and dark pink patterned headscarf, speaking through tears, she placed three photographs in our hands - her brother, her son and her daughter. Three of Chechnya's "disappeared". No information, no investigation, no justice.
Sadly this is far from an isolated example. As this report details, we met with many people who described house-burnings, enforced disappearances, beatings, forced marriages, and torture. A culture of impunity, especially for President Kadyrov's Chechen security forces, means most people are too afraid to report such crimes, and even those reported do not generally result in thorough investigation and prosecution.
There is no real Parliamentary scrutiny or transparency over what President Kadyrov and his Government are doing, not helped by the fact that 37 of Chechnya's 41 MPs belong to the same party (United Russia). Chechnya's own Human Rights Ombudsman is hostile to the concept of independent NGOs holding the Government to account.
President Kadyrov has created a cult of personality and an image of being all-powerful within Chechnya - even many of the victims we met have great faith in his ability to put a stop to the human rights abuses perpetrated on a daily basis. We were extremely disappointed therefore that President Kadyrov cancelled his planned meeting with us - and we were concerned about the message that this sends about his commitment to improving the human rights situation in Chechnya. The atmosphere of fear and terror created by the security forces' scant regard for human rights is counter-productive, and undermines efforts to tackle terrorism. If President Kadyrov is truly in control, he needs to take responsibility for what is happening to his people.
One Chechen told us: "Russian laws do not protect me". If Chechnya is to remain an integrated part of Russia in the future, then President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin need to grasp the nettle and ensure Chechens are entitled at the very least to the same legal protections as other Russian citizens. Turning a blind eye to human rights abuses under the misplaced assumption that Chechnya is stable under Kadyrov's iron regime only stores up problems for the future.
Condoned by the Russian Federal Government, the Kadyrov regime still provokes extremism which provides a recruiting base for the extremist cause across the region and the world. It is a direct challenge to us all in the UK in our concern for security.
We hope this report will make plain the dire state of human rights in Chechnya and how important it is for the UK Government and others to act.
Lord Frank Judd & Jo Swinson MP
10 June, 2010
Table of Contents
I. Setting the Scene
- Background to the Mission
- Human Rights Concerns Highlighted Prior to the Mission
II. Findings of the PHRG Mission to Chechnya
- Reconstruction, Public Services and the Economic Situation
- Political Environment
- Divide between Chechen and Federal Authorities
- NGO Environment
- Systemic Problems with Investigations into Human Rights Violations
- Human Rights Violations and Cases
III. Delegates' Conclusions and Recommendations
Annex I: Timeline of Significant Events in Chechnya
Annex II: Programme: PHRG Mission to Chechnya
Annex III: Specific Cases of Alleged Human Rights Violations in Chechnya