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Russia: Angelina Jolie visit a reminder that Ingushetia must remain safe haven for displaced Chechens

Amnesty International said:

'Local and federal authorities in Ingushetia must immediately cease any attempts to coerce these internally displaced people into returning to what continues to be an unsafe environment.

'Despite assurances by the authorities that life in the Chechen Republic is returning to normal, the situation is still characterised by gross human rights abuses, including 'disappearances', torture and ill-treatment and extrajudicial executions.'

According to recent reports, 200 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Bella Camp, one of the five remaining tent camps in Ingushetia, have recently been subjected to intense pressure by the Ingush authorities.

Camp dwellers have been forced out of the Bella Camp to a temporary settlement, and then made to return to the same camp amid worsened conditions. The fear is that local authorities are deliberately making conditions in IDP camps intolerable. The UNHCR has described such treatment as 'aggressive and unacceptable.'

The acting head of the Chechen administration, Anatoly Popov, has recently stated that all tent camps in Ingushetia - housing approximately 12,000 of some 80,000 IDPs - would be dismantled by 1 October, four days ahead of planned elections in the Chechen Republic.

The Russian authorities have made repeated threats to close the remaining camps while promising that this should happen on a voluntary basis. Thousands of Chechens have returned in recent months, but it appears that many have done so because they felt that they had no other choice.

Amnesty International is also concerned at reports that military raids have spread from the Chechen Republic to neighbouring Ingushetia. During these raids federal forces have targeted civilian settlements as well as IDP camps and committed serious human rights violations.

Amnesty International said:

'Such raids have no place in a country that claims to adhere to international human rights standards.

'Russian and Ingush authorities should cooperate with international organisations working in Ingushetia to ensure that those Chechens who feel unsafe to return have a safe haven in Ingushetia as long as necessary.'

Related information

The Russia Federation: Denial of Justice report, 29 October 2002:

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