[JURIST] Russian police have committed serious rights abuses against suspected rebel militants from Ingushetia [government website, in Russian; BBC backgrounder], including abductions, torture, and killings, according to a Wednesday report [HRW materials; press release] by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. HRW alleged that Russia has failed to hold government agents accountable for abuses and compared Russian tactics against suspected rebels to those used during both Argentina's "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity Backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the recent conflict in Chechnya [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The group said that Russian abuses had strengthened an increasingly violent militia movement in the region:
These practices evoke, albeit on a far smaller scale, the thousands of enforced disappearances, killings, and acts of torture that plagued Chechnya for more than a decade. They are antagonizing local residents and serve to further destabilize the situation in Ingushetia and more widely in the North Caucasus.The group urged the government to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the abuses and to better secure the region through the enforcement of the rule of law. Reuters has more.
In order to prevent Ingushetia from turning into the full-blown human rights crisis that has characterized Chechnya, prompt and effective measures must be taken by the Russian government to end these human rights violations and hold accountable their perpetrators.
In recent months, Ingushetia has seen an upsurge of violence [JURIST report], particularly targeting police, the military, and the judiciary. Local authorities blame Muslim rebels from both Ingushetia and Chechnya, but government critics and rights groups blame the government counter-insurgency tactics [advocacy report, PDF]. In May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] held Russia responsible [JURIST report] for the disappearance of a dozen people during Russian armed raids in Chechnya in 2002 and 2003. In July 2007, the ECHR ruled that Russian authorities were responsible for the shooting deaths of 11 unarmed Chechen civilians, and in June 2007 it held that Russian authorities were liable for the 2003 deaths of four Chechen family members [JURIST reports].