Human Rights Watch’s Annual Report Details North Caucasus Abuses

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 2

Human Rights Watch’s annual report, which was released on January 14, states in its section on the North Caucasus that while the armed conflict in Chechnya has subsided and “significant reconstruction is ongoing” in the capital Grozny, “security forces loyal to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov continued to use torture and illegal detention, especially against those with suspected rebel ties,” and “growing atmosphere of intimidation fostered by the government in Chechnya inhibits human rights monitoring and accountability for human rights abuses.” The report by the New York-based group, “World Report 2009,” states that according to local human rights groups, the number of “enforced disappearances” in Chechnya continued to decline this past year, with 30 abductions leading to nine disappearances documented as of September 2008. At the same time, the report states that few efforts have been made to address the cases of as many as 5,000 people “disappeared” in Chechnya since 1999. The report cites, among others, the case of Mokhmadsalakh Masaev, who was abducted and “disappeared” in August 2008 less than a month after a newspaper published his account of ill-treatment during four months in a secret prison in Chechnya.

According to the Human Rights Watch annual report, law enforcement and security forces involved in counterinsurgency in Ingushetia committed “serious human rights abuses” last year, including summary and arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and ill treatment, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions. The report cites the arrest last January of 10 journalists and two human rights activists monitoring a violent demonstration against government repression and corruption. It notes that two of the journalists, Said-Khussein Tsarnaev and Mustafa Kurskiev, were kept overnight in custody and denied access to counsel, food, and water, and that police severely beat Kurskiev, then denied him access to medical care. In July 2008, approximately 50 armed members of the security forces in military vehicles took Zurab Tsechoev of the human rights group Mashr from his home in Magas, Ingushetia’s capital, and drove him blindfolded to an unknown location, where his abductors accused him of working for the opposition website and beat him, causing serious injuries to his chest and legs, and threatened his family.

Human Rights Watch also detailed the shooting death of founder Magomed Yevloev while in police custody after being detained at Nazran airport on August 31.

Human Rights Watch’s annual report notes that the trial of 59 alleged participants in the 2005 uprising in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, began again in October 2008 after a long delay, and that many of the defendants have alleged torture and other abuses while in custody.