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Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states

Parliamentary Assembly
Assemblée parlementaire


restricted
AS/Jur (2006) 16 Part II
7 June 2006

Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

Draft report – Part II (Explanatory memorandum)
Rapporteur: Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, ALDE


C.       Explanatory memorandum

      by Mr Dick Marty, Rapporteur

5.        Secret detentions in the Chechen Republic

225. Although massive violations of human rights in Chechnya began and were denounced long before the American ‘spider's web’ was woven, it is regrettable and worrisome to observe that the two principal world powers cite the fight against terrorism as a reason to abandon the principle of respect for fundamental rights. This creates a mechanism of ‘reciprocal justification’ and constitutes a deplorable example for other states.

226. It is hardly possible to speak of secret detention centres in Council of Europe member states without mentioning Chechnya. Mr Bindig’s very recent report also notes not only numerous cases of forced disappearance and torture, but also the existence of secret places of detention.

5.1.        The work of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)

227. The situation in Chechnya, where unofficial places of detention are concerned, has already been roundly criticised by the CPT in two public declarations to which I referred in my information memoranda of December 2005 and January 2006187. The positions expressed therein could not be clearer, but the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has not yet given them the attention they deserve. During a very recent visit to the region, in May 2006, a CPT delegation again had grounds to believe that locations which might serve as unofficial places of detention were in the region188.

5.2.        Damning recent accounts by witnesses

228. Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), wrote an open letter to me dated 12 May 2006189 accompanied by a report compiled by the IHF, with the help of Russian non-governmental organisations active in the region, containing damning accounts by the victims of secret detention, who had also suffered torture, often followed by enforced disappearance, in the North Caucasus region. Many of these cases were attributed to the Kadyrovtsi, the militia under the direct command of the current Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. According to several of these accounts, some places used as unofficial places of detention were in Tsentoroy, the village where the Kadyrov family originated190.

229. Concern about our organisation's credibility means that these allegations deserve to be investigated in the same way as the violations committed by American services, especially as the Chechen Republic is on the territory of a member state of the Council of Europe.


187 See the two Public Declarations concerning the Chechen Republic, [CPT/Inf (2001) 15] and [CPT/Inf (2003) 33], available at: http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/rus/2001-07-10-eng.htm

and http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/rus/2003-33-inf-eng.htm

188 Cf. CPT press release: http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/rus/2006-05-09-eng.htm. Exceptionally, a CPT visit was interrupted when access to the village of Tsentoroy (Khosi-Yurt), south-east of Gudermes, was denied on 1 May 2006; the visit was resumed next day, when the delegation gained access to the village early in the afternoon.

189 See the letter entitled: “Secret prisons in Europe should be of concern to the Council of Europe”, authored by Aaron Rhodes, IHF; 12 May 2006; http://www.ihf-hr.org/documents/doc_summary.php?sec_id=3&d_id=4249.

190 See note 82 (above).