Terror and Impunity : A Planned System

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The conflict in Chechnya has been going on for two and a half years now. The Russian forces have kept perpetrating, behind closed doors, massive human rights violations -attested and condemned since the beginning of the conflict by NGOs as well as international organizations (United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union). The crimes committed have remained unpunished.

The Russian authorities continue to justify this war by the legitimate fight against terrorism, but the methods used belong to a wholly different reality. In Chechnya, the civilian population is still the first victim of a conflict which the Russian government is unwilling to put an end to, in spite of their obligation and commitment to do so.

As the 58th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights has opened, the FIDH again wishes to raise the alarm with the international community. On the basis of the previous FIDH/Memorial1 joint reports that characterized the facts exposed as war crimes and crimes against humanity, the FIDH has chosen to analyze the mechanisms of the system implemented by the Russian forces allowing the perpetration of systematic human rights violations and providing impunity to the perpetrators of these crimes. The violations cannot be reduced to isolated acts and attributed only to uncontrolled soldiers.

In that perspective, the FIDH mandated an international investigative mission in Ingushetia and Moscow in February 2002, in order to collect testimonies on the sweep operations and on the systematic lootings and rackets. The mission consisted of Anne Le Huerou (France), academic, Bleuenn Isambard (France), academic, and William Schabas (Canada), professor of international law. The heads of mission would particularly like to thank the representatives of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the members of Memorial’s representation in Nazran for their welcome and assistance.

This mission comes within the framework, and in support, of the research and investigation activities carried out by Memorial in Moscow as well as in Ingushetia and Chechnya since the conflict started. Besides, this report relies on the testimonies collected in Chechnya and Ingushetia by Memorial and published in the last six months.

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