Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 1

Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alexeyeva said that protecting human rights in Chechnya is crucial to accelerating reconstruction in the republic, Interfax reported on January 3. “First of all, it is necessary to ensure that security agencies act in compliance with the law and observe the constitutional rights of the republic’s population,” she told the news agency. “Schools have been opened in all the districts of the republic, which is very important. Hospitals are being repaired across the republic. Many Chechen residents have started to repair their own houses, in spite of the fact that few people have received compensation for destroyed houses and property. People are tired of poor living standards. They want to live a normal life.” Abductions of civilians, she said, remain a major problem facing human rights activists working in Chechnya.

On December 24, Yakin Erturk, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on violence against women, voiced concern about reports of arbitrary detention and torture of women in Chechnya. “I heard first-hand accounts of women being arbitrarily detained and tortured following targeted operations (by the Russian special forces),” Erturk said after visiting the republic. “This is said to be in response to women’s involvement in terrorist attacks, particularly as suicide bombers.” More generally, Ertuk warned that “in the absence of the rule of law, the civilian population suffers abuse by security forces and Chechen armed groups, leaving a climate of fear and insecurity,” Agence France-Presse reported.