Amnesty International Expresses Concern about Ingushetia

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 41

On the eve of the European Union-Russia summit set to take place in Portugal on October 26, Amnesty International released a statement calling on the Russian government and the local authorities in Ingushetia not to repeat the mistakes made in Chechnya. On October 24, the London-based human rights group warned that an increasing number of enforced disappearances, abductions and other human rights violations mark a rapidly deteriorating situation in Ingushetia.

“When dealing with the volatile situation in Ingushetia, the Russian authorities must act in line with the law, in particular by ensuring that all detentions are carried out in accordance with Russian law and international human rights standards,” said Nicola Duckworth, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program. “The often complete disregard for the rule of law by the Russian federal forces during the conflict in Chechnya and the impunity with which they abducted, tortured and disappeared members of the local population have scarred the lives of thousands of people and undermined Russia’s international standing. A repeat of the same tactics in Ingushetia is unacceptable … The Russian and Ingush authorities must put an immediate end to these human rights violations, and investigate all allegations effectively. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia was responsible for grave human rights violations in the second Chechen conflict in 18 separate cases so far, and is due to consider many more. These violations must not be repeated with regard to Ingushetia,” Duckworth concluded.

According to Amnesty International, law enforcement officials are reportedly conducting document checks and detentions in Ingushetia without identifying themselves, and in some cases wearing masks. Amnesty International cited the example of “an apparently punitive raid” on the village of Ali Yurt in July 2007, in which villagers were reportedly rounded up and beaten, with seven men detained and taken to the building of the Federal Security Services in Magas, where some were reportedly ill-treated (Chechnya Weekly, August 2). The London-based watchdog reported that at least three men have been shot dead in Nazran by law enforcement officers over the course of the year. “While the authorities have stated that those had put up armed resistance, witnesses to the killings claim that the men were summarily executed,” Amnesty International reported. “Similar incidents have been reported in the towns of Malgobek and Karabulak.”

Amnesty International reported that three men remain missing after being abducted in Ingushetia this year, and that the whereabouts of a fourth man, who went missing in March, remain unknown. “Other men have been released, having been abducted; some have been ill-treated or held in secret detention, including in pits dug in the ground,” the group reported. “A number of other ethnic Ingush men are reported to have gone missing in neighboring North Ossetia. Their relatives believe they may have been detained by law enforcement officials and subsequently disappeared.”

The group specifically cited the case of Ibragim Gazdiev, an ethnic Ingush who, according to witnesses, was seized by armed men in camouflage in Karabulak on August 8 and has not been seen or heard from since. Amnesty International reported that while authorities have officially denied that Gazdiev is being held in detention, there is “unofficial information” that he might be held in incommunicado detention in Ingushetia or in a neighboring North Caucasus republic. The group said it has “grave concerns” for Gazdiev’s safety (Chechnya Weekly, August 9).

Amnesty International urged Russia to “abide by international standards it has signed up to,” adding that Russian and Ingush authorities “must ensure that all actions of its security forces are carried out according to international standards and Russian law.” Observing the rule of law, including human rights law, has to be “at the heart of the response to the security crisis in Ingushetia,” the group said.

Amnesty International said it is also concerned about human rights abuses reportedly committed by armed groups against civilians, including abductions, and that it has also received information that unknown gunmen are committing numerous attacks against civilians. “Members of ethnic Russian families have been killed and a bomb exploded at a funeral held for one of the victims, injuring several people; members of a Roma family, two Korean men, and a Dagestani family, have also been killed during such attacks,” the group said in its October 24 statement. “At the same time, armed groups have launched attacks, often fatal, against members of law enforcement agencies in Ingushetia” (Chechnya Weekly, October 18; September 27, 13, 6; July 19).