A new wave of persecutions against LGBT people reported in Chechnya
One and a half years after news first broke about persecution, imprisonment and torture of (perceived) LGBT people in Chechnya, the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article on Friday, January 11, reporting that a new wave of attacks on the LGBT community in Chechnya has begun, and confirming that the situation is one of prolonged crisis and lawlessness.
- The Russian LGBT Network, ILGA-Europe member organisation which has been at the forefront of supporting victims since the persecutions started in 2017, confirms the following details:
- At least 40 LGBT people have been detained by Chechen law enforcement officials, imprisoned and tortured since December 2018.
- At least 2 victims are confirmed to have died as a result of the torture.
- Detainees are being kept in Argun, in a building belonging to the District Division of Domestic Affairs of the Chechen Republic.
- While in previous waves of the persecution men were the primary targets of arrests, in the current wave, men and women have been targeted equally.
International pressure has already been applied in regards to this ongoing crisis. On 20 December 2018 the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism issued its report on the crisis, confirming findings relating to detention and torture of LGBT people. In June 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called for an official investigation in its resolution on the situation. The European Parliament and United Nations have also called for a halt of the persecutions and an investigation into the situation.
However, despite overwhelming evidence, despite considerable pressure from international bodies and civil society, perpetrators of this atrocious violation of human rights, have not only gone unidentified and unpunished, but, as the most recent news show, have been able to continue persecuting LGBT people with impunity.
Numerous LGBT people have fled Chechnya and sought asylum elsewhere since the start of the crisis. Since December the Russian LGBT Network has received more requests for support from people in fleeing the region and is working to bring people to safety.
As the crisis shows no sign of relenting, with no consequences from the Russian state, it is clear that real safety for LGBT people from Chechnya can only be found abroad. As such, we urge governments to grant further visas to LGBT asylum seekers from Chechnya, and to continue exerting any pressure possible on Russian authorities to ensure an immediate halt to this atrocious violation of human rights and dignity.
ILGA-Europe will continue to issue information as and when it is available. You can also follow news on the website of the Russian LGBT Network.
UPDATE ON 26 FEBRUARY 2019:
A Federal Investigative Committee in Russia has referred a report by the Russian LGBT Network to its Investigation Department in Chechnya. The report addressed the renewal of illegal mass detentions and torture of LGBTI people, and people perceived to be, as allegedly organized by the Chechen police. This move seems ludicrous and, as the Russian LGBT Network notes, in effect means that the perpetrators are now tasked to investigate whether or not they were participating in the persecution. We call on the Federal Investigative Committee to respect its own mandate and carry out its responsibility to duly and independently investigate the cruel human rights violations that have taken place in Chechnya.
UPDATE ON 11 MARCH 2019:
Russia has to properly investigate and respond to wide-spread torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement in Chechnya and the whole North Caucasus, says the Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee (CPT) in the public statement issued on 11 March. The statement includes excerpts from the most recent Committee’s visit reports on the situation in Russia’s North Caucasus republic. These reports document the broad-scale and severe ill-treatment of people that were (unlawfully) detained, including LGBT people, in this part of Russia. The CPT concludes that since its last public statement on this matter in 2007, Russia has been demonstrating a complete failure to cooperate with the Committee. The public statement and the data in it provide further, holistic evidence to support reports of torture and ill-treatment coming from North Caucasus, Russia, including persecution of (perceived) LGBT people in Chechnya.
- Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic
- The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
Alleged new attacks on #LGBTI people in Chechnya must be investigated and all those responsible brought to justice, says @PietDeBruyn in joint statement with @FrankSchwabe https://t.co/Rne05ahG0Y pic.twitter.com/9vzsDP4kUI
— PACE_Equality (@PACE_Equality) January 15, 2019
- United Nations’ Human Rights Council
We wish to express our deep concern about recent reports concerning the renewed persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya, Russian Federation. These reports indicate that, in recent months, at least 40 LGBTI individuals have been detained, and that two individuals have died following torture.
- The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBTI Rights
Detention, arrests and torture against (perceived) LGBTI people have started again in #Chechnya.
It is time for Russia to take action and launch an investigation.
— LGBTI Intergroup (@LGBTIintergroup) January 15, 2019
United Nations Human Rights Office
#Chechnya100: UN experts urge action after reports of renewed persecution of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, incl. 2 reported deaths. They call on #Russia to act urgently to protect the rights of #LGBT people and to investigate abuse allegations.
— UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) February 13, 2019
The European External Action Service
According to credible reports at least 40 LGBTI people in the Russian Republic of Chechnya have been detained and at least two died as a result of torture. EU expects the Russian authorities to carry out swift and transparent investigations #EU4HumanRights https://t.co/IY0MNUIwaZ
— Maja Kocijančič (@MajaEUspox) January 18, 2019
Green Group of the European Parliament
We are deeply concerned to hear the news emerging from Chechnya that the authorities have unleashed a new wave of attacks on queer people with at least two reported dead. #EyesOnChechnya
— European Greens (@europeangreens) January 14, 2019
United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan
I am appalled by the reports coming out of Chechnya in Russia, including alleged detentions, torture & even deaths in some cases. Persecuting an entire community for being LGBT has no place in the modern world. https://t.co/EOyOTJBLK3
— Sir Alan Duncan MP (@AlanDuncanMP) January 16, 2019
We are deeply concerned by the reports that in Chechnya members of sexual minorities have once again been arrested and tortured, in some cases even resulting in death.
The Russian authorities need to investigate the reports by human rights organisations as soon as possible and ensure protection and support for all people under threat.
As the international community has repeatedly emphasised: Violent crimes must be investigated and the perpetrators held to account.
We urgently appeal to Russia once again to implement the recommendations contained in the report of OSCE rapporteur Professor Benedek.
- Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Jeremy Hunt
Very disturbing reports out of Chechnya about renewed persecution & detention of #LGBT people, inc 2 deaths in custody & 40 arrested. If this is true, it is totally unacceptable & Russian authorities must not only stop this from happening but hold those responsible to account
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) January 14, 2019
State Secretary at Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Audun Halvorsen
Credible reports of renewed persecution and detention of #LGBT persons in #Chechnya, including two deaths, give cause for grave concern. Call for #Russian authorities to thoroughly investigate and hold those responsible to account. @NorwayMFA #HumanRights
— Audun Halvorsen (@auhalvor) January 18, 2019
Foreign Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallström
Human rights org. report new wave of persecution in Chechnya, where LGBT persons once again are claimed to be detained, tortured and murdered by regional authorities. Call on authorities in Moscow to swiftly investigate and stop these horrible acts. Impunity must end.
— Margot Wallström (@margotwallstrom) January 15, 2019
- US Department of State
We are deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya about renewed attacks against individuals perceived to be members of the LGBTI community. Civil society groups report that at least 40 individuals have been illegally detained since December, including two who reportedly died in custody after being tortured. We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, and launch an immediate investigation into these human rights abuses. We also urge the Russian Federation to ensure that the rights of all human rights defenders are fully respected in Chechnya, and those illegally detained, including Oyub Titiev, be immediately released.
- Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Chrystia Freeland
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) January 18, 2019
- US Mission to OSCE
We call on Russia to respect the dignity of all persons. No human being should be subject to torture or cruel and inhuman treatment. No government authority is above the law. Lamentably, rather than live up to its international obligations and commitments and its own constitution, Russia “appears to support the perpetrators rather than the victims” and has failed to address the “grave situation” in Chechnya.
- Amnesty International
We are calling for the international community to take immediate action to protect gay and lesbian people in #Chechnya, and to increase the pressure on the #Russian authorities to properly investigate these horrendous crimes. https://t.co/5QzRDYM2sL
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) January 14, 2019