Authorities in Russia must urgently investigate the burning down of at least five houses believed to belong to the relatives of 11 men blamed by the authorities of carrying out an armed attack in the Chechen capital, Grozny, Amnesty International said after news emerged today of the “collective punishment” against the families.
The 11 men were killed alongside 14 law enforcement officers during an armed confrontation in Grozny on 4 December. At least one civilian is also believed to have been killed.
A day after the attack, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic, said the families of the armed group members would be expelled from Chechnya and their houses demolished.
“Punishing the relatives of those suspected of involvement in crimes is a flagrant violation of international law. Nothing can justify acts of collective punishment. The federal authorities must ensure an independent and impartial investigation is conducted into the burning of the houses and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for the Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International.
“By allowing these alleged acts of collective punishment to go unchallenged, the Russian leadership will be sending a dangerous message that such abuses are actually allowed and encouraged.”