30 August 2018 Norway and fourteen other OSCE participating states, invoked the Vienna Mechanism against the Russian Federation. They ask that Russia provide information on how it has dealt with well documented allegations of massive human rights violations in the Chechen Republic.
The enquiry includes response to persecution of hundreds of LGBTI persons, extrajudicial killings of 27 men in Grozny in January 2017, and attacks and arrests on human rights defenders such as Head of Memorial’s office in Grozny, Oyub Titiev.
– We commend this initiative by Norway and the other OSCE states to hold Russia accountable to its international obligations, says Secretary General in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland.
– The mentioned violations are well documented by civil society, but Russia has failed to respond to these actions or to carry out credible investigations. The initiative shows that the osce human rights commitments remain in force and that member states cannot discard them with impunity.
Norway and other OSCE participating states have repeatedly asked the Russian Federation about how they have responded to the well documented allegations of human rights violations in Chechnya, without receiving any proper response. When being asked about the government’s preliminary investigation of persecution of LGBTI persons during the 2018 UN Universal Periodic Review, Justice Minister, Anton Konovalov, stated that it “showed that there were not any such incidents. There weren’t even representatives of LGBTI in Chechnya. We weren’t able to find anyone.”
– We are glad to see that Norway is not satisfied with such negligent response and investigation and pursues other options, says Engesland. – It is imperative that the signatories will not accept evasiveness or incomplete response from Russia, and maintain pressure until the response manifests in proper investigations and proper action to hold perpetrators responsible and prevent further violations, says Engesland.
The Vienna (Human Dimension) Mechanism allows participating States, through an established set of procedures, to raise questions relating to the human dimension situation in other OSCE States.
The enquiry came on the day the famous Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya would have turned 60 years, and is received as a tribute to her legacy. Politkovskaya was murdered already back in 2006 due to her extensive work to cover human rights violations in Chechnya.