In Chechnya and North Caucasus, unlawful detentions and torture are widespread practices to coerce “confessions” from persons deprived of liberty. Oftentimes, these “confessions” are used as evidence in trial and lead to court convictions.

In 1994, a first conflict between Chechen separatists and the Russian army, causing thousands of casualties and massive forced displacement. Political instability and terrorist attacks also spread to the neighboring Republics of Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Dagestan.

After a short period of peace from 1996 to 1999 the conflict resumed, and the Russian forces established control over the majority of the Chechen territory. Thousands of people have been killed and subjected to enforced disappearances in these conflicts.

To this day, the North Caucasus is a highly unstable area where impunity is the norm. Arbitrary detention and torture in prisons remain common, at the hands of Russian and Chechen security forces alike. Human rights defenders, the LGBT community and independent journalists are particularly at risk.

What does TRIAL International do in Russia?

TRIAL International partnered with the organization Stichting Russian Justice Initiative to submit a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2013. The two NGOs represented six men from Chechnya and Dagestan who had been victims of arbitrary detention, torture and unfair trial in 2004-2005. All the six men were subjected to torture and severe ill-treatment by State agents to extract confessions of their involvement in terrorist activities. They were then prosecuted and found guilty of several counts related to terrorist attacks, based on the “evidence” obtained under torture.