Being a safe haven for Chechen LGBTI

Being a safe haven for Chechen LGBTI
Justin Trudeau (Flickr/JustinLing)

Canada blames Russia for criminal negligence regarding human rights abuses in the Republic

In response to the publication of the OSCE Rapporteur’s Report under the Moscow Mechanism on alleged Human Rights Violations and Impunity in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation on December 21, 2018, Global Affairs Canada officially welcomed this document by Chrystia Freeland’s statement on the occasion.

The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs repeated the main finding of the report on the credibility of the allegations and claimed the testimonies of victims and witnesses of torture and killings being “harrowing and deplorable.” Canada calls to stop human rights violations and to bring to justice the perpetrators.

“Together, we cannot and must not fail to speak up for and defend human rights around the world.”

As Russia had not addressed concerns raised by Canada and other 15 OSCE participating states under the Vienna Mechanism put in place in August 2018, these 16 countries invoked, on November 1, 2018, the Moscow Mechanism to investigate human rights abuses against the LGBTI community in Chechnya, including a case of 27 men allegedly killed on January 26, 2017. On November 5, 2018, following the standard OSCE procedures, the same 16 OSCE states appointed an OSCE rapporteur from the existing resource list. Russia didn’t use its right to choose a second rapporteur from the list, and refused to assist the first rapporteur with his travel arrangements to the country. Thus, the OSCE investigation became a single-expert mission ran by Dr. Wolfgang Benedek with the help of two assistants, one of whom was a Russian native speaker, with the examination of sources available outside of Russia being its main methodological tool.

In the two-week period assigned for the preparation of a fact-finding report by the Moscow Mechanism, the OSCE rapporteur, based on accessible documents and testimonies, confirmed the major allegations, including arbitrary and unlawful arrests and detention, harassment and torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. In his report, these crimes are primarily linked to a number of campaigns launched by Chechen authorities against the LGBTI community, drug addiction and terrorism. Russia’s federal law-enforcement institutions are portrayed as ineffective in Chechnya where “a special regime of impunity is tolerated for the sake of stability.” In conclusion, several recommendations were given to Russia, to the Chechen Republic and the OSCE participating states in order to improve the situation. Among the latter, Russia could be offered cooperation “in addressing problems of enforcing the rule of law and the protection of human rights in the Chechen Republic,” while Canada is stated among the countries applying good practices with respect to Chechen LGBTI refugees fleeing from the Republic.

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