Human rights defender Oyub Titiev released on parole after spending 17 months in prison

Press release

Human rights defender Oyub Titiev was released on parole today after serving 17 months of a four-year prison sentence on fabricated charges. Titiev and the human rights NGO for which he was working, Memorial, have long been a thorn in the side of the local authorities due to their key role in documenting grave human rights violations in Chechnya.

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, together with International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), welcome the release on parole of Oyub Titiev, Head of the Human Rights Center (HRC) "Memorial" office in Chechnya, but once again call on the authorities to annul his conviction, provide him with full reparation and furnish guarantees that he and all other human rights defenders will be allowed to pursue their vital human rights work without any further impediment or harassment by local or federal officials.

« We are relieved Oyub is finally free. However, for any first-time offender of a non-serious crime it’s common practice to obtain early release on parole. What was extraordinary, was the fabricated criminal case against Titiev and the deeply flawed trial before a court in Chechnya. »

Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General

On March 18, 2019, the Shali City Court sentenced Titiev to four years in prison for “possession of marijuana in large quantities” (Article 228(2) of the Russian Criminal Code). Titiev, who was detained since his arrest on January 9, 2018, recently applied for early release in accordance with Russian law and on June 10, 2019 the Shali City Court approved his application.

« Oyub should never have been detained in the first place. The authorities should restore his rights after 17 months of abusive court proceedings, arbitrary detention and smear campaigns. »

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

Today the Observatory and IPHR publish an observation note on the trial and conviction of Oyub Titiev. The note shows how the trial was replete with violations of fair trial standards. Prior to the start of the trial, the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, publicly claimed that Titiev is a drug user, thereby violating the presumption of innocence of the accused. During the eight-month long trial, the judge refused repeatedly defense motions to conduct an investigation into well-substantiated allegations that marijuana had been planted in Titiev’s car.

« The release of Oyub is great news for his family, colleagues and entire human rights movement in and outside Russia. The case proves the importance of coordinated solidarity and support which can lead to successful outcomes even in authoritarian contexts. »

Brigitte Dufour, Director of IPHR

For more information, please contact:

• OMCT: Iolanda Jaquemet / Roemer Lemaitre: + 41 79 539 41 06 / + 41 22 809 49 39 
• FIDH: Eva Canan: + 33 6 48 05 91 57
• IPHR: Simon Papuashvili: +32 494 75 39 42

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