In November 2009 a number of Russian human rights organizations created a Public Commission on Chechnya.
In order to obtain authoritative and verified information about human rights violations in Chechnya the Commission formed a Joint Mobile Group consisting of representatives of different Russian human rights NGOs to work on the territory of Chechnya.
On 7 February 2010 around 7 p.m. in Shaly, Chechnya, the police detained three human rights defenders: Dmitry Yegoshin (Regional NGO “Man and Law”, Yoshkar-Ola), Roman Veretennikov (NGO “Mothers in support of the detainees, indictees and convicts”, Krasnodar), Vladislav Sadykov (Bashkirian represenatation of INGO “Committee against Torture”). The detention was organized by Magomed Daudov and performed under his personal supervision. Mr. Daudov is the head of the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs where the human rights defenders were taken after the detention.
The three detainees are lawyers of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) of Russian human rights defenders that has been working in Chechnya since November 2009 investigating into the allegations of torture, abduction and notorious murders in that Russian region.
Being engaged into one of such investigations, the human rights defenders were about to meet with an unknown Chechnya citizen who pretended to be the relative of an alleged witness of an unlawful detention. This “relative” turned out to be Magomed Daudov, head of the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs, who suggested that Roman Veretennikov and Vladislav Sadykov should have a talk with him in the Department of Internal Affairs.
An hour and a half later the third JMG member, Dmitry Yegoshin, was detained by the traffic police. The police took him to the Department of Internal Affairs under the pretext that they needed to check whether the car he was driving had not been stolen.
Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, worker of the Committee against Torture, managed to talk to someone introducing himself as Magomed Daudov (in Chechnya known as the Lord) on the phone and found out that the human rights defenders had been really taken to the Shaly district Department of Internal Affair and there were some investigative actions performed with their participation. According to Mr. Daudov, they were not detained officially, but they would stay in the Department of Internal Affairs till the morning. He claimed that the Federal Security Service and the Republican Prosecutor’s Office had been notified about the JMG lawyers’ detention.
When talking to the duty officer of the Shaly Department of Internal Affairs, Igor Kalyapin, head of the JMG headquarters, learnt that the three human rights defenders had not been detained officially, but they were really located in the Department of Internal Affairs and could not just go away because they “were taking part in some investigative actions”. The duty officer mentioned that the Federal Security Service and the Republican Prosecutor’s Office had been notified about the JMG lawyers’ detention.
According to the detainees, there were no procedural documents (detention protocol, administrative offense protocol, indictment, etc.) prepared during their stay in the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs, they were not questioned as suspects, they were no charges against them. At the same time, when the human rights defenders wondered about their legal status, the police replied that they were not detained, but they could not freely leave the DIA. Thus, three individuals were, in fact, deprived of liberty for no reason.
Upon detention the lawyers were searched, their personal belongings (cell phones, voice recorder, picture camera) were withdrawn; the seizure was not documented. Later the belongings were returned to their owners. It turned out that the recordings on the voice recorder had been deleted.
Besides, the human rights defenders’ car was inspected and some devices were seized, including an audiovisual recorder. Upon withdrawal the recorder was damaged and does not work anymore. The vehicle was searched in Dmitry Yegoshin’s presence, but no procedural documents were prepared and there were no legal grounds for such an inspection.
The detainees spent the night of 07 – 08 February 2010 in the rooms of the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs unable to leave the building and having no clue about the grounds for their detention. They were released on 8 February 2010 around 10 a.m. The belongings of the human rights defenders were given back to them. The police insisted that they should write pledges stating that they had got their belongings back and they had not been subjected to psychological or physical pressure by the police. Later they found out that the audiovisual recorder was not functioning.
The actions of the Shaly District DIA staff, in particular, head of the DIA Magomed Daudov, amount to violation of article 286 of the RF Criminal Code (abuse of office). The violation consists of:
– unlawful detention of Veretennikov, Yegoshin, Sadykov in the Shaly District DIA (no chance to leave the place; de facto deprivation of the freedom of movement for 15 hours);
– unlawful search and withdrawal of detainees’ personal belongings (no grounds for these actions);
– unlawful inspection of the vehicle and withdrawal of objects found in the vehicle (no grounds for the inspection; no relevant procedural documents prepared);
– damaging of the equipment withdrawn from the vehicle (audiovisual recorder).
Besides, as we have already said, the duty officer of the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs reported that the prosecutor had been notified about the human rights defenders’ detention. Under p.2 of article 33 of the Law “On the Prosecutor’s Office”, “the prosecutor or deputy prosecutor should immediately release every individual unlawfully kept in a detention or penal facility, every individual detained unlawfully, placed on remand or in a forensic psychiatric facility.” The same requirement is contained in Prosecutor General’s Act no. 137 dated 06.09.2007 “On prosecutorial supervision over procedural activities of the investigation bodies”. In our case there are grounds to believe that the prosecutor has failed to perform his official duties and has not checked whether the detention was lawful.
Therefore we urge you:
1) to check the facts of Yegoshin’s, Veretennikov’s and Sadykov’s detention thoroughly;
2) to perform legal assessment of the actions of the police;
3) to take all the necessary measures in your capacity of the Prosecutor General;
4) to perform a check and evaluate the quality of prosecutorial supervision over the lawfulness of detentions;
5) to inform the Public Commission on Chechnya (109028 Moscow, 16/1Khokhlovsky Street, Public Verdict Foundation) about the results of the check and measures taken, as well as about the reasons for the human rights violations and the names of those responsible for them.
Public Commission on Chechnya:
Head of the Human Rights Institute V.M. Gefter
Co-chairman of RNGO “Man and Law” S.V. Poduzov
Chairman of INGO “Committee against Torture” I.A. Kalyapin
Director of the Public Verdict Foundation N.E. Taubina
Chairman of NGO “ Mothers in support of the detainees, indictees and convicts ” T.A. Rudakova
Chairman of the Memorial Komi Human Rights Commission I.V. Sazhin
Executive Director of the Interregional Human Rights NGO “Committee 29” I.N. Guirsh
President of the Siberian Human Rights Centre D.S. Lantsov
Independent Information and Analytical Agency “Obyektiv” (Grozny) Kh. Saratova
Board Chairman of the South-Siberian Human Rights Centre M.V. Burmitsky
Youth Human Rights Movement (Voronezh) A.Y. Yurov