Amnesty International: Russia fails to protect those who defend human rights

Amnesty International released a statement on Friday in which it criticized the Russian government for failing to protect those who promote human rights.

According to Amnesty International, the violent attack on human rights defenders and journalists in the Russian territory of Ingeshetia “is further evidence of the authorities’ abject failure to protect those who work to safeguard human rights.”

The statement comes after members of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture as well as Russian and foreign journalists were attacked while travelling on a road from Ingushetia to Chechnya on Wednesday.

The journalists and human rights defenders were travelling in a minibus near the administrative border between Chechnya and Ingushetia when a group of about 20 armed masked men intercepted the vehicle. The men physically assaulted the passengers, dragging them from the minibus and hitting them. The attackers proceeded to set the vehicle on fire, warning the passengers to never come to Chechnya.

Eight victims were hospitalized following the attack.

 “This is the latest and most brazen in a series of attacks on the JMG [Joint Mobile Group] and journalists in the Russian North Caucasus. So far these attacks have been answered simply with verbal condemnation rather than effective prosecutions,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the attack was due to “hooliganism”.

The human rights organization has criticized Moscow’s response, insinuating that the gravity of the situation is being downplayed. “Russian law contains specific provisions for punishing anyone convicted of using violence or destroying property in order to obstruct the work of journalists. However, these provisions are not being applied to this attack, which is being investigated only as ‘hooliganism’,” the report stated.

Amnesty International’s Joint Mobile Group was created in 2009 after Chechen human rights defender Natalia Estemirova, was murdered. The group investigates human rights violations committed by Chechen officials and others.

  Chechnya, Ingushetia, Russia, human rights