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A Chechen human rights group has been publicly threatened by the leadership on national television, according to Human Rights Watch.
The Joint Mobile Group of Human Rights investigates human rights abuses by law enforcement and security officials in the region. In particular, they carried out an investigation into murder of award-winning activist Natalia Estemirova. The group is “seeking justice for torture, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial executions,” (Tanya Lokshing, HRW).
Earlier this month the group were present at a rally in Grozny against enforced disappearances. Members of the group were called to the city hall for a “detailed conversation”. At the meeting, televised during prime time news, the activists were criticized by various leadership figures for coming to Chechnya for financial gain, hating the Chechen people and provoking conflict. They were also accused of paying residents for fake reports of torture. This was followed by threats and the activists were not permitted to respond.
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We, the undersigned, share the concerns of Human Rights Watch over the events on June 1 in Grozny. The continued threats from government officials to the Joint Mobile Group of Human Rights which was aired on television is not in line with the repeated commitments from Russia to foster a normal working climate for human rights defenders in the region.
We support the call of Human Rights Watch to guarantee the safety and unhindered work of human rights defenders in Chechnya.
Russia has a legal obligation, under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure that members of the Joint Mobile Group of Human Rights can exercise their fundamental rights in a secure environment.
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