A Regional System of Torture, Forced Confessions and Fabricated Trials
(09/10-2008) This report is based on information collected in the North Caucasus region by the following human rights organizations active in the North Caucasus region: Amnesty International, Civic Assistance Committee, Human Rights Watch, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Memorial Human Rights Center, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Stichting Russian Justice Initiative. The aim is to provide an overview of developments in the human rights situation in ﬁ ve republics of the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation (Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan) from March 2007 until the present.
While there have been positive developments in the human rights situation in the North Caucasus region over the last year, notably in the Chechen Republic, which has seen a decrease in some of the gravest types of human rights abuses, such as enforced disappearances, the underlying problem of impunity for human rights abuse persists. Moreover, there is a change in the pattern of human rights abuse taking place in the region.
In April 2007, for the ﬁ rst time since the beginning of the Second Chechen war, no abductions were registered in Chechnya. In Ingushetia 3 men went missing in spring-summer 2007 after detention by state agents, but since September, Memorial have not registered enforced disappearances in Ingushetia. There have been no enforced disappearances in North Ossetia since July 2007. Dagestan has been an exception, with disappearances on the rise in the summer of 2007. However, human rights reports, protest rallies and news coverage seemingly had an impact and disappearances are on the decline. When two men were abducted on January 30 2008 in Makhachkala, they were later released after protest rallies had been organized by relatives and a local rights group.
The practice of enforced disappearances is being replaced by a regional system of torture, forced confessions and fabricated trials. Suspects are illegally detained, tortured, forced to provide confessions regarding armed activity or related crimes. In court such suspects are sentenced to long prison term on the basis of evidence extracted under torture. In the prisons conditions for “Caucasian ﬁghters” are harsh. Last year, human rights organizations received hundreds of complaints and documented dozens of cases of severe beatings, torture, denial of medical aid and degrading treatment of North Caucasian prisoners. Several formerly healthy prisoners from Ingushetia and Chechnya, some only recently sentenced for combatant activity, died in prison. In 2007 and 2008, primarily in Ingushetia, but also in Dagestan, a number of suspects were shot dead while “resisting arrests” or during “special operations”. In most cases, witnesses claim that the persons did not resist security servicemen and were simply summarily executed.