U.N. panel cites torture, secret detentions in Chechnya | VailDaily.com

U.N. panel cites torture, secret detentions in Chechnya

Associated Press

GENEVA – A U.N. anti-torture panel said Friday it had credible reports of unofficial detention centers, abuse and disappearances in Russia’s restive southern province of Chechnya.In a 12-page report on Russian compliance with a global ban on prisoner abuse, the U.N. Committee Against Torture said it had “reliable reports of unofficial places of detention in the North Caucasus,” where security forces are trying to quell Muslim separatists.The committee, comprised of 10 independent experts, said it had learned of “allegations that those detained in such facilities face torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”Russian officials have disputed abuse accusations in the past.The U.N. committee’s report also highlighted “numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations that abductions and enforced disappearances” in Chechnya were carried out by government officials or with their consent and that perpetrators went unpunished.The incidents were linked with anti-terrorism operations, the panel said, adding that it was aware of allegations that relatives of terror suspects were also regularly detained.Last week, Human Rights Watch told the committee that torture in Chechnya was widespread and systematic.The New York-based group said it documented 115 torture cases in Chechnya between July 2004 and September 2006, most of them carried out by security forces under Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed prime minister, Ramzan Kadyrov.The group also said it had received descriptions of at least 10 unlawful detention centers used by the forces, known as the Kadyrovtsy, throughout Chechnya.At the time, Interfax quoted Deputy Chechen Prime Minister Ziad Sabsabi as denying the allegations.The U.N. panel did not specify who might be behind the torture, but said it allegedly took place in facilities run by the Second Operational Investigative Bureau, an agency formed in 2002 to work against organized criminal groups – which in Russia includes militant groups.The committee, which periodically reviews the record of each of the 142 signatories of the 1984 U.N. Convention Against Torture, also highlighted “numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations” of torture by police officials elsewhere in Russia.It urged Russia to address reports of hazing in the military and the harassment and killing of human rights defenders.Citing the case of murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed Oct. 7 while apparently investigating reports of torture in Chechnya, the panel said Russia should enforce national and international laws to combat human rights abuses, investigate all torture allegations and punish those responsible.

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