ODIHR Director calls on Russian authorities to urgently investigate reports of shocking human rights violations against gay men in Chechnya
WARSAW, 13 April 2017 ─ Michael Georg Link, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today called on Russian Federation authorities to urgently investigate the alleged disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment against men in Chechnya based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.
“The authorities in the Russian Federation must urgently investigate the horrific reports of human rights violations against allegedly gay men in Chechnya, as well as identify, prosecute and punish any known perpetrators,” said Director Link. “Additionally, authorities should adopt immediate protection measures for victims and vulnerable individuals who could become victims, as well as facilitate the full rehabilitation of all victims of torture.”
This month, local and international human rights organizations, as well as Russian media outlets have claimed to have extensively verified the abduction, secret detention, torture and even murder of men in Chechnya based on their real or perceived homosexuality, including at a former military headquarters in the town of Argun.
The authorities in Chechnya reportedly dismissed these allegations and demonstrated unwillingness to investigate and prosecute them. OSCE participating States, however, have repeatedly committed to ensuring that no one will be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention in Vienna in 1989 and in Moscow 1991.
“I call upon Russian authorities to urgently identify the whereabouts and urgently secure the release of any victims allegedly remaining in detention,” said Director Link. “Given the reported unwillingness of local authorities to investigate and prosecute the serious violations alleged to have been committed by security services, it is incumbent upon Russian Federation authorities to intervene and protect all those remaining at risk, as well as ensure accountability for any violations.”
In 2016, international human rights organizations reported a broader pattern of abductions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and extrajudicial executions alleged to have been committed by State security services in Chechnya. However, these recent shocking reports are the first to allege a campaign of abductions and ill-treatment directed specifically at individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.