The continuing need to restore human rights and the rule of law in the North Caucasus region
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 21 June 2022 (20th sitting) (see Doc. 15544, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mr Frank Schwabe). Text
adopted by the Assembly on 21 June 2022 (20th sitting).
The Parliamentary Assembly notes
with regret that since Resolution
“Legal remedies for human rights violations
in the North Caucasus region” and Resolution 2157 (2017)
in the North Caucasus: what follow-up to Resolution 1738 (2010)
?” the situation
with regard to human rights and the rule of law in the North Caucasus
region, specifically the Chechen Republic, Dagestan and Ingushetia,
has not improved. In particular, the climate of impunity for serious
human rights abuses, committed by agents of the regional and federal
authorities’ authoritarian rule, and widespread fear continue to
prevail. With the tacit acceptance of the federal authorities, the
North Caucasian republican administrations have each created a system
of persecution and collective punishment to suppress any opposition
at the regional level and, as appropriate, at the State level. None
of the Assembly’s recommendations listed in the above-mentioned resolutions
have been properly addressed by the Russian authorities.
2. Journalists, human rights defenders, lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, intersex (LGBTI) persons, women refusing to submit
to the demands of “traditional values” and anyone who opposes authoritarian
rule risk persecution, torture and even losing their lives for expressing
their opinions or just living their lives as they wish. Neither
they nor their relatives are safe in the North Caucasus, anywhere
in the Russian Federation or even abroad.
3. With the Russian Federation no longer being a member of the
Council of Europe, the modest progress civil society has achieved
is being undone. The liquidation of non-governmental human rights
organisations, such as Memorial, and the forcible closure of independent
mass media, such as Novaya Gazeta,
destroys the last pockets of democratic resistance to the authoritarian
rulers, both in the North Caucasus and in the Russian Federation
as a whole.
4. The methods of repression first used in the Chechen Republic
– extrajudicial killings, abductions and enforced disappearances,
torture, brutal repression of freedom of speech and assembly and
sham criminal proceedings – have spread throughout the Russian Federation
and, in their most brutal form, to the temporarily occupied areas
of Ukraine. The role played by the Head of the Chechen Republic,
Ramzan Kadyrov, and Chechen fighters in the siege of Mariupol is
symptomatic of the increasing brutality of the treatment of opponents
that began in the two Chechen wars.
5. The long-lasting scourge of missing persons and enforced disappearances
continues to ravage the region. The Russian authorities deny in
part these cases, refuse to provide information to competent bodies and
persist in using ineffective methods to search for missing persons
despite hundreds of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights
(the Court) and the recommendations of the Assembly and the Committee of
Ministers inviting them to emulate good practices from other countries.
Numerous cases of human rights violations documented in previous
Assembly reports have not been resolved, nor have the authorities
carried out effective investigations or provided any other remedies.
The cases of violent deaths or disappearance of personalities, mentioned
in Resolution 1738 (2010)
have not been elucidated by the authorities and the criminal justice
system in the North Caucasus proves itself efficient only as a means
of persecution through trumped-up criminal charges, not as a remedy
to ensure accountability for human rights violations.
7. Credible reports of kidnappings, torture, ill-treatment, enforced
disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights
violations continue to flow from all North Caucasian republics.
Hundreds have been documented in judgments of the European Court
of Human Rights. The law-enforcement and security agencies have
continued to use exclusively repressive methods to counter extremism
and radicalisation, which has proved to be counterproductive: terrorist
attacks have continued and extremist movements have grown.
8. The situation of women and girls, LGBTI persons and other
vulnerable groups has become even worse. The people in the North
Caucasus continue to live in a closed, patriarchal society. Both
local and federal authorities tolerate severe repression under the
pretext that it is justified by “traditional values”. This often amounts
to brutal, sometimes murderous, discriminatory practices against
women and girls who try to escape from violent husbands, fathers
or brothers and, especially, against LGBTI persons, whose very existence
the Head of the Chechen Republic has publicly denied.
9. There has been no tangible progress in the implementation
of the Court’s judgments concerning the North Caucasus region by
the Russian Federation and the authorities have failed to co-operate
adequately with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the CPT) and other
Council of Europe monitoring bodies.
10. Even after the expulsion of the Russian Federation from the
Council of Europe, the Assembly should not ignore the dismal human
rights situation in the North Caucasus. It shall persist in reminding
the Russian authorities, both at federal and local levels, of their
continuing international obligations to respect the fundamental
rights of all persons living under their rule.
Therefore, the Assembly calls on the Russian Federation to:
give effect to all previous
Assembly resolutions relevant to the human rights situation in the
North Caucasus, in particular:
11.2 implement all judgments and decisions of the European
Court of Human Rights and co-operate with the Committee of Ministers
in identifying appropriate individual and general measures to execute existing
judgments and those which the Court will still hand down even after
the expulsion of the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe;
11.3 co-operate with the CPT, as long as the Russian Federation
remains a Party to the European Convention for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (ETS No. 126);
11.4 cease the persecution of human rights defenders, lawyers,
journalists, independent media outlets, non-governmental organisations,
LGBTI persons and those who oppose the authorities and express their
11.5 ensure respect for the rights of women and girls and their
protection against domestic violence and any other form of abuse,
irrespective of purported cultural traditions;
11.6 implement relevant recommendations issued by United Nations
bodies related to conventions to which the Russian Federation remains
12. The Assembly further invites all Council of Europe member
and observer States to carefully consider requests for asylum from
residents of the North Caucasus region, in particular members of
particularly vulnerable groups such as human rights activists, journalists,
LGBTI persons and women fleeing domestic violence. The competent
authorities should also take into account the fact that persecuted
persons from the North Caucasus region are not safe in other regions
of the Russian Federation and may require protection even in countries
which have granted them asylum.
13. The Assembly encourages the member States of the Council of
Europe to impose strict personal sanctions, including asset freezes,
on Ramzan Kadyrov and his entourage for their crimes in the North Caucasus
region and war crimes committed during the war of aggression against
14. The Assembly calls on INTERPOL to be particularly vigilant
when dealing with requests for Red Notices against persons from
the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation, in particular
those who belong to the above-mentioned vulnerable groups.
15. The Assembly encourages the European Court of Human Rights
to continue treating in due course the applications brought by victims
of serious human rights violations allegedly committed by the Russian Federation
until 16 September 2022, in particular those concerning the North
Caucasus region, even if the Russian Government, contrary to its
international obligations, refuses to co-operate. This would at
least create an authoritative record of these violations, which
would facilitate their reappraisal and the rehabilitation of the victims
in a future democratic Russian Federation.
16. For its part, the Assembly resolves to engage with civil society
in the North Caucasus in order to promote Council of Europe values,
including democracy, human rights and the rule of law.