Canada’s concerns over human rights violations in Chechnya

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OSCE human dimension mechanism is called to assist in the resolution of the problem

On November 1, 2018, Canada, together with 15 OSCE participating states, invoked the Moscow Mechanism to investigate human rights violations in Chechnya, Russia, by establishing an independent investigation mission.

In her official statement, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, condemns serious abuses against the LGBTI community in the Russian Chechen Republic, including a case of 27 men allegedly killed on January 26, 2017. According to her, Russia has not addressed concerns raised by Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States under the Vienna Mechanism put in place earlier in August. This fact allowed the above-mentioned countries to declare a launch of a mission of experts to assess the issue on the ground. The expert mission, once established, is expected not only to document LGBTI persecutions in the region, but also to look into possible solutions in these circumstances.

“Inaction in this situation contributes to a climate of impunity for human rights abusers.”

The Moscow (human dimension) Mechanism has been used seven times since its adoption in 1991. The last time, it was invoked by 14 OSCE participating states in 2011 after the presidential election in Belarus. Despite the consensus-based nature of the OSCE, both human dimension mechanisms – the Vienna and the Moscow – do not require consensus to move to action.

In response to these actions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation issued a comment on its official website, accusing the 16 states invoking the Moscow Mechanism in bringing political agenda to the human dimension. It is seen as “a demarche” initiated to strengthen “the anti-Russian campaign before the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Milan, December 6 – 7.” Moreover, as stated in the comment, in the framework of the previously launched Vienna Mechanism, Russia requested the above-mentioned countries to provide any factual information on alleged human rights violations in Chechnya. But as reported by the Ministry, nothing has been presented so far.

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