CHECHNYA: Crime and punishment

Amnesty International takes no position on the membership of states to

intergovernmental organisations, however, today's decision by the Council of Europe is a strong

and clear message that human rights violations will not be tolerated.

Last week Amnesty International revealed the existence and locations of secret 'filtration

camps'. Vladimir Kalamanov, the Russian presidential representative on human rights in

Chechnya, and Yuriy Kalinin, the deputy Minister of Justice, publically denounced Amnesty

International's findings claiming that no secret 'filtration camps' exist and that no detainees in

Chechnya are tortured.

'The Russian government has proved that they have no political will to investigate

human rights abuses in Chechnya,' Amnesty International said. 'Only an international

investigation by the United Nations will suffice.'

Russian authorities claim that they have initiated up to 129 investigations against army

personnel, reportedly the vast majority of these investigations were related to cases of bullying in the

army and other such offences, and not to the core issue: human rights violations against civilians.

Although Russian authorities claim that they have initiated seven investigations into alleged offences

against civilians, Amnesty International knows of only one publicly announced investigation into

alleged human rights abuses: that initiated against a Russian officer for rape and murder.

In the previous 1994-1996 Chechnya conflict no military personnel were prosecuted or

convicted for crimes against civilians as far as Amnesty International is aware. So far the Russian

authorities have not given any indication that this time things will be different.

This week Amnesty International has been lobbying members of the Parliamentary

Assembly of the Council of Europe to support a call for an international inquiry. Amnesty

International does not believe that an investigation of human rights abuses by Mr. Kalamanov's

office will be impartial.

'How can anyone expect Mr. Kalamanov and his staff to investigate abuses, such as torture

and ill-treatment in secret 'filtration camps', when he himself last week denied that such camps and

abuses exist?' Amnesty International said.

During her visit to Chechnya The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Mary

Robinson, asked to visit a number of secret 'filtration camps' that were made public by Amnesty

International, for example, 'PAP-1' and 'PAP-5' in Grozny, and another five locations, including the

so-called 'Internat' in Urus-Martan. The Russian authorities did not allow her to visit these places,

justifying their denial with security considerations and bad weather. For Amnesty International this is

yet another confirmation of the Russian authorities' lack of will to engage in an open and credible

investigation.

'Only an independent, international team of investigators, including forensic and medical

experts, allowed unimpeded access by Russian authorities to all parts of Chechnya would be in a

position to establish the truth of human rights violations,' Amnesty International said. 'Such an

investigation is the first step to bring the perpetrators to justice.'

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