The draft law submitted by the Parliament of the Chechen Republic is becoming a widely discussed issue in the media. As is evident from the explanatory memorandum, «the objective of the proposed law is strengthening civil and criminal liability for persons who committed crimes of terrorism against public security, as well as for their parents and full-aged close relatives». Many journalists and my colleagues human rights defenders interpreted this initiative of the Chechen lawmakers as an attempt to legalize the criminal practice which was implemented in the Chechen Republic after 5 December of last year, when after Ramzan Kadyrov’s call for out-of-court reprisals the militants relatives houses demolitions and deportations out of Chechnya began. Admittedly, that’s how authors of this legislative initiative comment on their own draft law. However, let us not jump to conclusions but let’s try to understand what is really going on.
(Photo: one of the burnt houses in Yandi settlement of Achkhoy Martan region of the Chechen Republic, December 2014. Photo by Aleksandra Sokolova)
All penal or remedial measures which are provided by the proposed draft law are planned to be applied only «on condition if the fact of assisting the persons who committed such crimes (terrorism) is established».
In connection with this I would like to point out that the applicable Criminal Code provides for criminal liability (Article 205.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) of persons assisting terrorists. A different matter is that the fact of such assistance must be established by the investigative authorities and the court justice. No one can be subjected to persecution only because of kinship with a militant. The Chechen lawmakers did not suggest anything new apart from escalation of penalties against terrorists and the assisting persons. Whether or not this is a justifiable measure is a disputable question. In my opinion a suicide terrorist could not care less whether he gets 15 or 25 years prison term. He does not think about this and escalation of penalties is not going to stop him.
The draft law also includes other parts which are puzzling, to put it mildly.
However, this is not the main issue. In my opinion, the main thing is that in Russia there is no law providing liability for the mere fact of kinship with whoever, and there can’t be such a law. The draft law of the Chechen law makers does not contain such a liability either. Therefore, the practice of banishment of the militants’ relatives from their households simply because they are relatives, demolition of their houses, deportation out of Chechnya was and in any case is illegal, what is more – criminal. And people, destroying someone’s houses, even if they act according to some big boss’s order, have to understand that they are committing a crime which is punished with up to 5 years prison term per Article 167 of Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.