Statement of Freedom House concerning assault on HR organizations in Grozny, Chechnya
June 3, 2015
In response to a mob’s June 3 attack against the Committee Against Torture’s regional office in Grozny, Chechnya, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The second attack in six months on Grozny office of the Committee Against Torture and destruction of property shows the Russian government to be either complicit in violence against human rights groups, or unable to ensure their protection,” said Susan Corke, director of Eurasia programs. “Russian federal authorities should conduct a full and transparent investigation of both incidents and immediately press Chechen authorities to ensure safety of the Committee Against Torture and other human rights groups in Chechnya.”
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 there.
In December 2014, a mob torched the Grozny office of the Committee, and Chechen police detained the NGO’s staff. On June 3, 2015, a mob that gathered in the courtyard of the Committee’s Grozny office pried open metal doors, destroyed equipment and took away documents related to the ongoing cases the Committee is investigating in Chechnya.
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.