Demand that Russian authorities investigate torture allegations effectively
Zelimkhan Chitigov - victim of torture from Ingushetia, on 5 November 2011 © Private
On the morning of 27 April 2010, the then twenty year-old Zelimkhan Chitigov was taken away from his home in Karabulak, Ingushetia, by some 30 armed men. He was interrogated, repeatedly beaten, and subjected to bouts of torture such as electrocution, being suspended from metal bars, having his skin twisted with pliers and having his toe nails pulled off.
The police officers wanted him to ‘confess’ to some terrorism-related activities and to provide false testimony against others. After three days in secret detention he was finally brought before a judge to authorise his detention but he could no longer walk as a result of his injuries and collapsed in the courtroom.
Despite several attempts by Zelimkhan’s family to urge the authorities to identify and prosecute those responsible for his detention and torture, an investigation into his case began only after a protest was staged by local police officers who refused to obey what they called “unlawful orders to use violence” from their commander and his deputy who had then been charged with several criminal offences. Charges against the deputy commander included his involvement in Zelimkhan’s secret detention. Two years on, the trial of the two police officers involved is still ongoing. However, there has been no investigation identifying any of the other law enforcement officials who had been involved in Zelimkhan’s secret detention and torture. After having spent months in hospital being treated from the injuries received as a result of torture and undergoing further extensive rehabilitation Zelimkhan, his wife and young children had to leave the country.
The use of torture and other ill-treatment as a means of extracting confessions and information to incriminate others is a well documented practice in the Republic of Ingushetia, as well as other parts of Russia. The agony of victims and their families continues when authorities fail to investigate allegations of torture and other ill-treatment committed by law enforcement officials. Zelimkhan Chitigov’s case is significant as the only case from Ingushetia where the use of torture has been officially acknowledged and confirmed in the course of investigation though evidence suggests there are many others.
In May 2012 a new department for investigating allegations of crimes committed by police and other law enforcement officials was created at the Russian Investigation Committee and its regional branches. It is expected that the new department will be able to investigate allegations similar to Zelimkhan’s, removing any potential collusion of local police officers that could be an obstacle to justice. This development has the potential to finally address the shocking accountability gap in the Republic of Ingushetia and elsewhere in Russia but questions still need to be answered…
Print off the attached letter and fax it to the Chairman of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation, Aleksandr Ivanovich Bastrykin! We know this to be the only effective way of communicating with the authorities and achieve impact!
Send your faxes to: +7 499 265 90 77 or +7 499 265 97 75
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