Mayo 23, 2007

Chechnya authorities kidnap with impunity -Amnesty

23 May 2007 11:26:54 GMT

MOSCOW, May 23 (Reuters) - Russian forces kidnap and torture people with impunity in Chechnya despite Kremlin assurances the southern region is returning to normal after a separatist war, rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Chechen rebels and Russia's military have fought two wars since 1994, devastating much of the region and its capital Grozny, once the largest city in the north Caucasus. The rebels have now been driven back into mountain hideouts.

In a 22-page report entitled: "What justice for Chechnya's 'disappeared'?" Amnesty wrote that the number of disappearances had dropped but that kidnappings were still commonplace.

"The incidence of 'temporary' disappearances, when individuals are arbitrarily detained and held in incommunicado detention while the authorities deny knowledge of their whereabouts, is high," Amnesty said.

"During the incommunicado detention the individuals are at a very high risk of torture and other ill-treatment in order to extract a 'confession'."

Amnesty's investigation adds to the growing pile of reports from international groups which insist Chechnya is still riddled with kidnappings and torture, challenging the official line that the rule of law has been re-established in Chechnya.

Human rights groups accuse Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov -- a 30-year-old former rebel and boxing fan -- and militia groups which swear allegiance to him of some of the murders and kidnappings.

He has always denied the allegations and has promised to pursue anybody suspected of involvement in abuses.

Federal soldiers and rebels have also kidnapped and murdered people, Amnesty said, but although the Chechen authorities have investigated kidnappings there have been virtually no convictions.

"Impunity for human rights abuses has prevailed," Amnesty said. "The authorities have failed in virtually all cases to investigate and prosecute the serious human rights violations."

Amnesty said the second war, which started in 1999, has killed around 25,000 people and turned thousands more into refugees. Human rights groups say that up to another 5,000 people are missing.

Today cranes tower over Grozny, workmen plaster concrete onto walls and university students stroll to lessons in freshly painted classrooms. Money has poured into Chechnya but the war and its scars are not hard to find.

Shelled apartment buildings litter the outskirts of Grozny and rebels hide out in the mountains. They launch attacks and bombs which kill policemen and soldiers every week.

Posted by marga at Mayo 23, 2007 3:14 PM | TrackBack
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