The committee combating torture accused Russia of persistent violations of basic human rights in a rare use of its right to issue a statement of public protest.
The statement said that during several visits to the war-torn region “a considerable number of persons interviewed independently at different places alleged that they had been severely ill-treated whilst detained by law enforcement agencies”
Allegations are detailed and consistent, according to the release, and concern methods such as severe beating, electric shocks and asphyxiation using plastic bags and gas masks.
The committee said its medical experts confirmed physical marks and conditions that were fully consistent with the allegations.
Not first condemnation
It was the second time in two years that the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT) has publicly criticised the Russian federation over Chechnya, where conflict has raged for over ten years.
The CPT was set up under the 1987 European Convention for the prevention of torture, to which Russia is a signatory.
After six visits to the Chechen Republic in the last three years, the committee is well informed to back up its accusation.
The CPT also concluded that “there is a continued resort to torture and other forms of ill-treatment by members of the law-enforcement agencies … and that action taken to bring to justice those responsible has proved largely unproductive.”
“there is continued resort to torture … by members of the law-enforcement agencies”
The European Convention provides for inspections by members of the committee and experts including medical doctors and lawyers.
If a country fails to cooperate, the convention authorizes the committee to issue a public statement, which it has done only 11 times.
In a similar protest in July 2001, the CPT alleged that a large number of detainees had been tortured in Russian custody. The latest report indicated that ill treatment continues as before.
The committee mentioned one establishment, known as ORB-2, that “stands out in terms of the frequency and gravity of the alleged ill-treatment,” although it had never appeared on any official list of detention facilities provided by the Russians.
The statement said that from the “general attitude and demeanour of the staff” the CPT was “deeply concerned” about the fate of persons taken into custody at the facility.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin calls the conflict in Chechnya an “anti-terrorist operation” and has been reluctant to accept outside interference.
The government in Moscow insists it sent troops to Chechnya to suppress terrorism following a string of bomb explosions in Moscow and other cities in 1999 in which more than 200 people were killed.