The continuing need to restore human rights and the rule of law in the North Caucasus region
| Provisional version
- 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).
Assembly notes with regret that since Resolution 1738 (2010)
“Legal remedies for human rights violations in the North
Caucasus Region” and Resolution
“Human rights 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 Chechen Republic, Dagestan and Ingushetia (the
North Caucasus) 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 built up
a system of persecution and collective punishment to suppress any
opposition at regional level and as appropriate at 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, 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 and anywhere in the Russian Federation or even
3. With the Russian Federation being no longer a member of the
Council of Europe, the modest progress civil society has achieved,
is being undone. The liquidation of human rights non-governmental
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 the Chechen fighters in the siege of Mariupol
is symptomatic for the brutalisation of the treatment of opponents
that began in the two Chechen wars.
5. The long-lasting scourge of missing persons and continuing
disappearances continues to ravage the region. The Russian authorities
in part deny 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 and the recommendations of the Assembly and the Committee
of Ministers inviting them to emulate good practices from other
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 on kidnappings, torture, ill-treatment, enforced
disappearances, extra-judicial 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 proved counter-productive: 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
the local and the 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 trying to escape from violent
husbands, fathers, brothers, and, especially against LGBTI persons,
whose very existence the Head of the Chechen Republic 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 implement existing
judgments and those which the Court will still hand down following
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 Treading or Punishment (ETS No. 126);
11.4 cease the persecution of human rights defenders, lawyers,
journalists, independent media, non-governmental organisations,
LGBTI persons, and all who oppose the authorities and express their opinions
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, to which the Russian Federation remains a party.
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 assets freezes
on Ramzan Kadyrov and his entourage for their crimes in the Nord 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.