Rights Group Calls On Russia To End Impunity In North Caucasus

Posted June 21st, 2012 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Rights group Amnesty International has called on Russia to strengthen accountability of law enforcement personnel in the restive Northern Caucasus.

In a report issued Thursday, the group says that law-enforcement agencies often pose as much threat to the security of local residents as do armed groups.

In a new report called “Circle Of Injustice,” the international watchdog investigates alleged abuses by authorities in the North Caucasus, including kidnappings, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture. It also examines the failure of authorities to properly investigate and prosecute such cases.

The report says an estimated 200 people have been abducted by armed and masked men in the past 10 years in the region but that no one has been prosecuted in the cases. It also cites allegations of unlawful executions, often during security operations, which are not investigated.

A U.S. specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia, Paul Goble, agrees. Speaking with VOA he welcomed the Amnesty International report, saying it calls the world's attention to a serious failure on the part of the Russian authorities.

“Clearly, the officials of the Russian Federation and its agency in the North Caucasus are — if not carrying out all these kidnappings and disappearances, and I suspect many of them are related to the Russian authorities — they are utterly failing in their responsibility bringing anyone else and their own subordinates to justice. Unfortunately because the international community is not paying attention to what's going on in the North Caucasus, these crimes against humanity among the peoples of that troubled region have gotten only worse — because there is no penalty at present for the government of the Russian Federation, internationally, from failing to live up to its obligations under its own constitution and laws and under international agreements.

Goble said the war on terror is being used as a cover to justify criminal action by the authorities in the North Caucasus and to avoid international criticism that such actions should attract. He said paying attention to what's going on in the region is the first and most important step toward rectifying the situation.

“Second is to regularly call the attention of the Russian authorities in Moscow to these crimes and demand that steps be taken and to evaluate whether or not the Russian government takes these steps. And third, if the Russian government fails to do so, then I think the United States and the western powers more generally should seek condemnation in international bodies — the United Nations, OSCE and so forth — of Russian government's failure to stop these crimes against humanity.”

John Dalhuisen, director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program says at present, the only hope of redress for victims of human rights violations in the North Caucasus is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which is a long and complicated process and could be dangerous for applicants.

He says the Russian authorities must bring justice home and adopt a “zero tolerance” policy of human rights violations by law enforcement officers.

There was no immediate comment on the Amnesty report from Russian officials.