Human Rights Office Attacked in Chechnya
Following the destruction of the Committee Against Torture’s regional office in Grozny, Chechnya, and blatant intimidation of the group’s staff by Chechen authorities, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The burning of the Grozny office of the Committee Against Torture, which has assisted victims of torture and helped bring perpetrators to justice, demonstrates the enormous pressure on Russian civil society and especially on human rights organizations,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president. “Russian authorities are either turning a blind eye to these events or are complicit in carrying them out. We call on the international community to press Russia to protect the safety and basic rights of its citizens and to safeguard the Committee Against Torture and other human rights groups.”
The Committee Against Torture, based in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, provides legal assistance and medical rehabilitation to victims of torture and represents their interests in Russian courts and the European Court of Human Rights. In 2009, after the murder of a human rights defender in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, the organization created a Joint Mobile Group in Grozny to assist victims of human rights abuses by government agencies.
Earlier this month, Igor Kalyapin, the head of the Committee, criticized orders by Ramzan Kadyrov, president of Chechenya, to burn the houses of the families of militants involved in an attack on Grozny on Dec. 4, and evict the families from the region.
Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and received a democracy score of 6.29 on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2014.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.