Dear colleagues, two years ago a visiting session of the Presidential Council for Human Rights was held in Nalchik. During the session our colleagues Svetlana Alekseevna Gannushkina and Kirill Viktorovich Kabanov raised the issue of securing or, to be more precise, establishing peace in the North Caucasus. I stand with their opinion and fully agree with their conclusions, as well as President Medvedev who was then present for the session did. That is why I am going to reiterate those conclusions in brief.
Speaking about motives of terrorists, Kirill Kabanov noted that “the type and motivation of those implicated in terrorist and extremist activity have changed.
Back in the 90s the source was in the religion-based ideology, including extremist, being cultivated by certain groups. Nowadays, according to our reckoning, most people implicated in terrorist activity get involved in it to take personal vengeance and out of fear to be falsely accused of terrorism, and they commonly have distorted sense of justice. In other words, there in fact appears a certain recruitment into this negative environment, and religious coloration happens as a sort of covering, an envelope, frequently with personal factor…
Here we discern the following causal relationship. The main reason is that law enforcement bodies use criminal methods in their work. They are torture, planting evidence and unlawful criminal prosecutions. It happens more and more often that such incidents are witnessed coupled with corrupt intent”.
Thus, preventive measures against terrorism to a significant extent amount to ensuring that relevant law enforcement and security agencies perform certain counter-terrorist operations, carry out pre-trial investigation and provide operational-investigative activities in compliance with law.
There are reasonable grounds to state that in this respect the situation in the North Caucasus is highly unsatisfactory. As for Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, I learn about the situation there from human rights defenders’ reports. But as far as the Chechen Republic is concerned, it is my long-term firsthand experience that allows me to draw conclusions. In 2009 I together with my colleagues represented victims’ interests in 7 criminal cases, instituted by the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Chechen Republic basing on abductions. I would like to emphasize that in most of the cases the victims concerned were civilians not involved in criminal prosecution formally in any way. To put it simply, they were neither accused, nor suspected. Nevertheless, they were detained by police officers and then disappeared.
So, participating in pre-trial proceedings we discovered, that no effective investigation was conducted in any case. Partially because of unwillingness of investigators and systematic violations, and partially due to the strongest resistance on the part of policemen. I stress that this is not only my or other human rights defenders’ conclusion, this is what was established by courts and prosecution and investigative bodies of the Chechen Republic.
PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE: “Investigative bodies don’t take urgent steps in a timely manner, no proper cooperation between operating units is organized in order to solve crimes. There are incidents when investigators from the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Chechen Republic cover up crimes connected with abductions”. I am not quoting a text by a human rights defender, this was written by the Prosecutor’s Office.
INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE: “Servicemen of the Ministry of the Interior for the Chechen Republic don’t provide appropriate operational support in this category of criminal proceedings. Orders to perform operational-investigative activities and requests of investigators of the Investigative Directorate are implemented behind the time limit and not to the full extent. The replies received don’t contain the requested information and are mainly written for the sake of appearance”. This time I’m not quoting a human rights defender either. This statement was submitted to the Minister of the Interior of the Chechen Republic by the Head of the Investigative Committee of the Chechen Republic Viktor Aleksandrovich Ledenev.
Just recently, this year, the European Court of Human Rights has delivered its judgments in three cases concerning abductions in the Chechen Republic. These are proceedings where victims were represented by our lawyers. They are cases of abduction of Askhabov in 2009, abduction of Ibragimov in 2009, and abduction of Suleymanov in 2011. In all the free judgments the ECHR established not only violations of right to life and prohibition of torture, but also failure to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances in which these people disappeared. God knows we did everything in our power for these cases NOT to appear before the European Court, we did everything we could for those cases to be effectively investigated here, in Russia, in the Chechen Republic. It didn’t work out. In the three cases the ECHR held the Russian Federation responsible. Though, as I see it, it is not quite right, at least not quite accurate. It is not the whole State who is responsible for the crimes remaining unsolved. The abducted have not been found, the perpetrators have not been punished, and there are certain State officials who should be held accountable for this. We have prepared reports on each of these case. The reports contain all the numerous violations, unlawful acts and omissions of officials from the Prosecutor’s Office, investigative bodies and and the police that have led to the fact that our country is found responsible for violations of the most fundamental obligations – not to torture and murder people without judicial safeguards. In the nearest future these reports will be submitted to chief officers of security and law enforcement agencies, and to the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation who represents the Government before the European Court of Human Rights. We sincerely hope that the responsible State officials will be held liable for neglect of their duties.
Yesterday, together with my colleagues, we visited an investigative isolator. We asked the arrested suspects if they had complaints concerning unlawful acts of officials. In each cell of the block almost all the inmates claimed that they had been subjected to torture with the aim of obtaining false confession statements and false testimony against other people. Neither me, nor my colleagues can say if these stories are true or not. The possibility that the complaints of the arrested suspects are mere attempt to escape from punishment can not be excluded. It is possible. But the law demands that every complaint of the kind shall be examined diligently. They all claimed that they had lodged relevant complaints with law enforcement bodies (mostly with the Prosecutor’s Office). They all have either received no answer, or received refusals to institute criminal proceedings. The strange fact is that none of the procedural checks has ever comprised medical examination, including medical examination of skin injuries sustained during alleged torture with electricity. According to one of the inmates, he was taken to hospital after torture in a temporary detention facility. The medical personnel observed numerous injuries he had sustained during the torture, including electric burns on his hands. The relevant medical reports were submitted to the Investigative Committee, but it refused to open criminal proceedings.
I do want to see the files of the procedural checks basing on the aforementioned allegations. I really doubt that they were carried out thoroughly, impartially and diligently. More over, if those people were in fact subjected to torture, how can their statements prove their quilt?! With the help of this method of interrogation anyone here can be convicted of terrorist activity.
As for constructive ideas, I would like to reiterate the words said in Nalchik two years ago.
When we discuss the role of civil society, we mean two functions that it should perform. The first one is maintaining dialogue and reaching agreements. For this first function to work, agreements must be kept. This is what representatives of State authorities usually don’t follow. They eagerly discuss things at meetings, making promises. Then they leave and forget.
The other objective is public scrutiny. Now, control over compliance with laws and upholding human rights by law enforcement agents is indispensable.
Dear colleagues, I’ve been citing Kirill Kabanov’s words. He said this two years ago, and he was perfectly right.
Here is an actual example. Three years ago, in 2010, I reported everything that I have just told you to Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov. We spoke tete-a-tete with him and in details discussed the problem of violation of law by the police and their resisting those investigative activities that the Investigative Committee tries to perform. It seemed to me that in the end we came to understanding in respect of all the issues in question. Then Mr. Kadyrov arranged for us a short conference with the Prosecutor and the Minister of the Interior of the Chechen Republic. During the conference Mr. Kadyrov said things that one can’t object to. He stressed that no official in the Chechen Republic can be above law. He also said that any official must appear before an investigator if he is summoned as required by law. His speech was then published, and I know that many investigators placed this text on the walls of their offices above their desks. Nevertheless, to our deep regret, the situation hasn’t actually changed at all.
What is more, I haven’t managed to obtain another meeting with Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov since then, though I have repeatedly asked his assistant Aset Malsagova to arrange one. It didn’t work out.
Dear colleagues, I am always open for collaboration, as well as members of the Joint Mobile Group are. All our telephone numbers are available, and we are willing to give them to everyone present here. I’m always ready to go anywhere all over the country to answer any questions concerning any relevant situation, to hear any possible objections and to put forward my suggestions. I suppose, representatives of State authorities, chief officers of law enforcement agencies don’t enjoy meeting with human rights defenders that much, for the latter criticize a lot and praise a little. Still I believe that these meetings are of vital importance, and you have my word that we are always ready for them.