On 7 February 2010 three workers of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) under the Public Commission of Russian NGOs for Chechnya were taken to the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs by law enforcement agents where they were unlawfully detained for 15 hours.
On 8 February 2010 the heads of the Chechen Ministry of the Interior and Chechen Government officially commented on the situation.
Such events force me to make an official statement, since I am responsible for the activity of the JMG in the Republic of Chechnya.
1. Joint Mobile Groups are created to conduct public investigations under the applications of Chechen citizens claiming grave violations of their rights, e.g. tortures, extrajudicial prosecutions and abductions. JMGs consist of human rights defenders having huge practical experience of investigation into crimes committed by state agents.
At present the JMG lawyers represent the interests of several victims in Chechnya. All cases are dealt with by the Special Investigation Department of the Investigation Administration of the Investigation Committee under the RF Prosecutor’s Office for Chechnya.
The JMG lawyers’ actions aim at protecting the constitutional rights of the Chechen population. The JMG collects evidence, identifies and interrogates witnesses strictly following the relevant RF legislation. In particular, article 86 of the RF Criminal Procedure Code.
For these purposes the law permits the usage of technical equipment (laptops, voice recorders, cameras), it is lawful and necessary, and Russian courts in various regions have many times confirmed this. Therefore, the statement of Mr. N. Nukhazhiyev, Human Rights Commissioner for Chechnya, about “espionage techniques used by the JMG” is leastwise ignorant and absurd, in my opinion.
2. The events of February 7, namely, unlawful detention of the JMG lawyers, clearly show that the principles employed by the JMG – legality, presumption of innocence, security of person – are not used by certain high-standing officials of the Chechen Ministry of the Interior.
In his official comments the representative of the Chechen Ministry of the Interior has mentioned that the human rights defenders were taken to the Department of Internal Affairs and detained there for the whole night because some woman had alleged that the JMG lawyers “had asked her to write a defamatory statement about one of the local officials”. Although this accusation is preposterous, nevertheless, each citizen’s application is to be checked by the law enforcement bodies. However, the check is to be performed in accordance with the law which in our case was gravely violated by officers of the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs.
3. From the moment of its creation in November 2009 the JMG has many times faced the situation when our applicants were intimidated. The pressure was exerted both by unknown law enforcement agents and by certain unprincipled prosecutorial investigators. In some cases investigators simply stonewall the investigation by doing nothing to identify the perpetrators in charge of the gravest police abuse cases.
After the JMG received an application from Mr. Adnan Ibraguimov claiming that his nephew, Said-Salekh Ibraguimov, had been abducted by law enforcement agents on 29 December 2009, around a dozen of people wearing masks and armed with weapon typical for the Special Forces of the Ministry of the Interior broke into Mr. Ibraguimov’s house and searched it without introducing themselves or presenting any documents. Then they said that it was a regular check and left. The application filed to the Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the search did not give any results.
On 10 December 2009 in course of interrogation Raisa Turluyeva, mother of abducted Said-Salekh Ibraguimov, was intimidated by investigator Arbi Abdulkhadjiyev from the Achkhoy-Martan Interdistrict Investigation Department. The investigator told Ms. Turluyeva that by giving such statements she imperiled herself and could be revenged upon by top law enforcement agents of Chechnya. There was no adequate response to the complaint filed to the Prosecutor’s Office in relation to that incident.
On 14 January 2010 investigator Nasrutdin Batalov unlawfully dismissed the motion of the JMG asking him to perform certain investigative actions in order to identify those in charge of Apti Zaynalov’s abduction. We had to file that motion because the investigator himself was reluctant to take the necessary investigative steps. The Staropromyslovsky district court (Grozny) found the investigator’s inaction unlawful following the JMG’s complaint.
The above given facts illustrate the problem of ineffective investigation into the allegations of abuse of office committed by Chechen state agents and, consequently, the problem of their impunity.
4. Each time we find out that the authorities breach the law while investigating into criminal cases connected to human rights violations, we appeal against these breaches and insist on redress of the violation. At the same time we never accuse state agents in public if we do not have proofs of their guilt.
In our operation we follow a different standard: we thoroughly work with every application coming from Chechnya together with the Investigation Committee and other law enforcement bodies. We have lots of applications at our disposal claiming villainous
crimes committed by top Chechen officials. But these state agents will be accused of these crimes only when we collect enough evidence proving they are guilty.
5. It is not true that the Joint Mobile Group lawyers do not cooperate with local human rights organizations in Chechnya, as Mr. Nukhazhiyev, Human Rights Commissioner for Chechnya, claims. It is from local human rights defenders that we learn about human rights violations in the Republic: about tortures, abductions, unlawful arrests, forced self-incrimination, forgery of criminal case materials. Each time local human rights defenders tell us that they fail to make the authorities prosecute the culprits. The fact that Chechen human rights defenders do not mention to Mr. Nukhazhiyev that they cooperate with the JMG and in some instances ask us not to speak about it in public does not mean that there is no partnership, it rather means that there is no relationship based on trust between the Chechen Human Rights Commissioner and local human rights defenders.
I therefore state that the Joint Mobile Group will continue working in Chechnya. And we are going to appeal against the unlawful actions of the officials from the Shaly District Department of Internal Affairs under Russian law.
Head of the Joint Mobile Group Headquarters
Under the Public Commission for Chechnya