A travesty of justice and a dire warning to human rights defenders to stop documenting the abysmal human rights situation in Russia’s Chechnya
On 18 March 2019, a court in Chechnya, Russia, sentenced human rights defender Oyub Titiev to four years in prison on trumped-up charges after an unfair trial. Titiev, who has been in detention since his arrest on 9 January 2018, decided not to appeal.
Instead his lawyers focused on obtaining Titiev’s conditional release. Titiev’s request for early release was approved by a court on 10 June 2019 and on 21 June he was released from prison after 17 months in detention.
Oyub Titiev’s conviction after an unfair trial constitutes a mockery of justice, intended to punish an outstanding human rights defender and to drive out the last major independent human rights NGO from Chechnya. Titiev’s case also delivers a dire warning to other human rights defenders in Russia either to remain silent or face the consequences.
On 23 August 2018 Kadyrov threatened that human rights defenders will no longer be able to work in or visit Chechnya after Titiev’s trial is over, publicly stating that Chechnya will be forbidden for them, in the same way as for terrorists.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and IPHR are deeply concerned by this and other statements by representatives of the executive authorities of the Chechen Republic.
In view of these elements, our organisations formulate the following recommendations:
- Take all necessary steps to overturn Titiev’s conviction and provide him with adequate compensation for any time in detention;
- Stop any kind of harassment against Human Rights Centre “Memorial” and ensure they can pursue their vital and legitimate human rights work in a conducive environment;
- The highest central authorities in Russia should unequivocally condemn the statements by the local executive authorities in Chechnya;
- Ensure that human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers in Chechnya and elsewhere in Russia are protected from intimidation or violence as a result of their activities;
- Ensure the prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of all allegations of harassment, torture or ill-treatment of human rights defenders, and prosecute and punish the perpetrators with appropriate penalties.
- Fully cooperate with international human rights watchdogs, including the Council of Europe, the OSCE and UN mechanisms.
Read the full trial observation note here.