Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Recent Reports 
 Support HRW 
About HRW
Site Map

Human Rights Watch - Home Page


To the Government of the Russian Federation

Human Rights Watch documented the endemic nature of torture in the criminal justice system in Russia in a 1999 report, Confessions at any Cost: Police Torture in Russia, (New York: November, 1999). The report makes detailed recommendations to the Russian authorities on approaches to end the practice of torture in police custody and prisons. Human Rights Watch again calls on the Russian government to implement those recommendations as a matter of priority. 

End the Practice of Torture

Ensure accountability for torture, and compensation and rehabilitation for victims Ensure access by the international community To the Special Representative for Human Rights in Chechnya Vladimir Kalamanov To the International Community

Representatives of various international organizations and governments, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States have repeatedly exhorted the Russian government to investigate abuses committed in Chechnya and to hold those responsible accountable. Although the Russian government had not undertaken a credible investigation, on April 25, 2000, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights failed to call for the creation of an international inquiry into the abuses, instead calling once again on the Russian government to conduct an investigation. The Russian government continues to make no meaningful progress on accountability for abuses in Chechnya. Accordingly, Human Rights Watch once again calls on representatives of the international community to:

In addition, the OSCE, the U.N., and the Council of Europe have mechanims and institutions authorized and competent to deploy on-site either short-term missions, in the case of the U.N. thematic mechanisms, or a longer-term presence, in the case of the OSCE. Human Rights Watch believes that fuller transparancy in exposing abuses would be better achieved with an active presence on the part of these institutions, each acting in its own capacity.

United Nations

On April 25, 2000, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution expressing its concern about allegations of abuse in Chechnya, "notably in the alleged 'camps of filtration,'" and requesting the relevant rapporteurs and working groups of the commission to undertake missions to the region, and urged the Russian government to facilitate such missions. At the time of writing, none of those mechanisms had received permission of the Russian government to visit the region.

To the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe's engagement in Chechnya peaked in April, when out of concern for Russia's lack of respect for human rights the organization's Parliamentary Assembly suspended Russia's voting rights and requested the Committee of Ministers review Russia's continued membership. The Council of Ministers did not do so, however, and the organization's stance subsequently became much less critical. It justified this by citing "improvements" in the situation, and describing the much-delayed deployment of international Council of Europe expert staff to the office of Special Representative Vladimir Kalamanov as indicative of Russia's good faith to address human rights violations. Council of Europe member states refer to this office, and its collaboration with Council of Europe staff, as a substitute for other mechanisms that might lead to accountability for abuse, in particular, an inter-state complaint. Similarly, UNHRC member states pointed to this arrangement as substituting the need for an international commission of inquiry. For this reason, Human Rights Watch believes the work of this office should be closely scrutinzed and completely transparent.

Generally, the Council of Europe has not employed all the tools available to it to ensure that Russia adheres to the human rights standards membership in the organization requires. In particular the relevant bodies and/or member states of the Council of Europe should: 

To the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

On April 11, 1995, the OSCE established the Assistance Group to Chechnya. Its mandate, explicitly reaffirmed by all OSCE member states, including Russia, at the November 1999 Istanbul Summit, provides that it will, among other things, "promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms," and "facilitate the delivery to the region by international and nongovernmental organizations of humanitarian aid for victims of the crisis, wherever they may be located." The Assistance Group enjoys "all possible freedom of movement on the territory of the Chechen Republic and also on the territory of neighboring subjects of the Russian Federation, if so required for the performance of its tasks." The OSCE Assistance Group left the region when hostilities broke out in September 1999; as of this writing, the Russian government has actively impeded the group's redepoyment.

To the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Bilateral Donors To the European Union and the United States

Discussing alleged abuses in Chechnya before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Portuguese Foreign Minister, Jaime Gama, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated that a "serious and independent investigation must be carried out without delay in order that those responsible can be brought to account." Addressing the same forum, U.S. Secretary of State Albright called for "prompt and transparent investigation of all credible charges." To date, the Russian government has failed to undertake a serious investigation of abuses in Chechnya. It is therefore necessary for the E.U. and the U.S. to press forward for a two-track process of accountability involving both national and international inquiries. Specifically, the E.U. and the U.S. should: