Russian Federation: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Oyub Titiev

09/01/2018
Urgent Appeal

RUS 001 / 0118 / OBS 004
Arbitrary detention
Judicial harassment
Russian Federation
January 9, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Chechen Republic, Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of the Head of Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" in Chechnya Mr. Oyub Titiev.

According to the information received, in the morning of January 9, 2018, Mr. Oyub Titiev left his home in the village of Kurchaloi, in the Chechen Republic, to head to a meeting with a friend scheduled at 9am and subsequently to the office of HRC "Memorial" in Grozny. Mr. Titiev being more than hour late for the meeting with a friend whose identity is not being revealed on purpose, the latter spotted Mr. Titiev on a road between the villages Kurchaloi and Mairtup, next to the bridge on the river Khumyk. Next to Mr. Titiev were 5-6 traffic police officers inspecting his car. Mr. Titiev gave his friend a sign not to approach him, and after the both cars left - that of Titiev and the second belonging to the traffic police - he headed to the Kurchaloi District Department of Internal Affairs supposing Mr. Titiev would be taken there. Although he was not allowed to enter the District Department of Internal Affairs, Mr. Titiev’s car present outside and unofficial sources allowed him to assume Mr. Titiev’s detention.

Despite repeated calls, the District Department officially kept denying Mr. Titiev’s presence. Several hours later, Mr. Titiev’s lawyer confirmed that his client was charged under Art. 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation possessing drugs in large amounts. If convicted, he risks up to ten years of imprisonment. Up to date, Mr. Titiev was denied access to his lawyer while his detention had not been officially confirmed by the authorities until 7 hours after his detention when Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Chechen Republic Apti Alaudinov confirmed to the Russian Ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova that Mr. Titiev was being kept in Kurchaloi police station. Alaudinov promised to Moskalkova that his lawyer would be able to meet him "soon".

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Oyub Titiev and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Background information:

In the context of appalling human rights violations in Chechnya, such as the right to access to a lawyer, widespread use of torture and ill-treatment, regular enforced disappearances and summary executions, murders of human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers and life-threatening risks they take by continuing their work, the Observatory fears that the abduction of Mr. Titiev and charges against him are a retaliation for his work.

This is the third time Chechen law enforcement use trumped up charges of drug possession to silence critical voices.

In 2014, the Urus-Martan Town Court of the Chechen Republic found the historian and head of an independent Chechen group Mr. Ruslan Kutaev guilty on dubious drug possession charges and sentenced him to four years in prison. In 2016, Chechnya-based Caucasian Knot journalist Mr. Zhalaudi Geriev was sentenced to three years in prison on trumped up of drug possession.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Oyub Titiev, as his arrest, arbitrary detention and judicial harassment seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities;

ii. Release Mr. Oyub Titiev immediately and unconditionally, and put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with Articles 1, 12.1 and 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.

Addresses:

Vladimir Putin, President, Fax: + 7 495 606 5173; + 7 495 606 5173 / 630 2408

Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister, Twitter: @MedvedevRussia

Sergueï Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch

Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail: amrusbel@skynet.be

Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email: representationpermderussie@wanadoo.fr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Russia in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, January 9, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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