Examination of the regional Department of Interior's charge to defend its business reputation started in Chechnya


09 February 2015

Today, on 9 February 2015, the first court session on the merits have taken place on the charge of the Ministry of Interior of Chechnya against the Committee Against Torture and Murad Amriyev who in September 2013 applied to the Joint Mobile Group of human rights defenders reporting that he was subjected to torture in one of Grozny police centers.

(Photo: Anton Ryzhov and Galina Arapova)

As we have previously reported, the Ministry of Interior of Chechnya applied to the court of Grozny filing a charge to defend its honor and dignity against Murad Amriyev, making a claim for compensation for moral damages. A year ago Murad applied to the Joint Mobile Group with a complaint about illegal use of force and torture against him by the police officers. According to the applicant, the reason for submitting statements of claim to the court was that, allegedly, Murad Amriyev made public the data which became a base for a number of publications in the media. Later on, in the course of the hearing which took place on 5 December of last year, the representative of the Interior Department for the Chechen Republic filed a motion requesting to name INGO «The Committee Against Torture» as another defendant.

In addition, in December 2014 the representative of the Chechen Ministry of the Interior told the court that his organization intended to take to court internet media Grani.ru as a codefendant. However as of the current date the claim against Grani has not been lodged, at the same time in court the representative of the Ministry of the Interior kept alternating between referring to the Committee Against Torture press release and the publication on Grani.ru web site.

It is worth mentioning that in relation to Murad Amriyev’s complaint about torture procedural checks are still underway by the Investigative Committee of the Investigative Department. For a year and a half over a dozen of refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were issued, which were subsequently deemed illegal by the Prosecutor’s Office, the court, and the management of the investigative agencies themselves. Now the human rights defenders are waiting for the decision on their next complaint against the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings in relation to Murad Amriyev torture, which repeats the previous ones word for word.

In the course of today’s court hearing lawyer Galina Arapova specializing in mass media cases represented the interests of the Interregional non-governmental organization «The Committee Against Torture», and Murad Amriyev’s interests were represented by a member of Joint Mobile Group Anton Ryzhov.

Demanding denial of «false information discrediting business reputation of the Ministry of the Interior of the RF, Chechen Republic Ministry of the Interior and all police officers, distributed on the web site of the Committee Against Torture», the Ministry of the Interior of the Chechen Republic failed to indicate in its suit which facts contained in the distributed press release Amriyev and the human rights defenders have to deny. Today’s court hearing was dedicated to finding these specific demands. Responding to the demand of the defendant’s representative about a necessity of a more precise wording Mr.Temirbulatov kept saying that «it was clear enough», that «it has nothing to do with this case», and also offered a training session for the defendants’ representative on the legislation of honor and dignity protection. In the end, after prolonged disputes the court nevertheless obliged the Chechen Republic Ministry of the Interior to clarify its demands in writing. Upon Anton Ryzhov’s request the court also requested access to a number of documents from materials of pre-trial investigation in relation to Murad Amriyev’s complaint, but refused to request access to all the volumes of the pre-trial investigation.

«In this case there are several important aspects which deserve special attention. The claim is lodged by the Ministry of the Interior of the Chechen Republic, but the texts in question do not cover the actions of the agency, they cover the events with participation of a specified high-ranking police officer, against actions of which Murad Amriyev was complaining to the human rights defenders and investigative authorities. At the same time the police officer has not applied to court himself, – Galina Arapova comments. – We also observe a certain tendency when lately law enforcement agencies, mostly in the region of Northern Caucasus, apply to court with suit to defend their business reputation against comments of advocates, press-releases of non-governmental organizations, representing the interests of victims of torture and illegal actions of law enforcement agencies officers. At the same time investigations of citizens’ complaints against law enforcement agencies officers illegal actions often turn out to be ineffective».

It is worth noting that the progress of the court hearing is under monitoring of expert of Presidential council for development of civic institutions and human rights lawyer Tumas Misakyan. His report will be published at the Council’s web site based on the results of his monitoring.

Next court hearing is scheduled for 27 February this year.

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