Attack on office in Chechnya reiterates need for proper investigation

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims condemns last week’s attack on the office and apartment of its Russian member the Committee Against Torture (NGO CAT) and calls on the authorities to instigate a proper investigation and punish those involved in the attack.

On 3 June, a group of people broke into NGO CAT’s office and the adjacent apartment in the Chechen capital Grozny, destroying furniture, computers, paper files and folders. According to NGO CAT, the intruders went to the building where the centre is located and started destroying a car that belonged to the Committee before storming the doors to its office with hammers and crowbars.

The IRCT is relieved that NGO CAT staff managed to escape through a window, but is deeply shocked that no steps have been taken by the local authorities to properly investigate previous acts of intimidation in order to prevent criminal acts like these from happening. Six months after the arson attack on NGO CAT’s office, those responsible are yet to be brought to justice.

“Last week’s events are just the latest in a series of attacks against NGO CAT. While we are grateful that no one was hurt, we are extremely concerned about the safety of our colleagues and other human rights defenders in Russia. We call on Russia to commit to a proper investigation, provide NGO CAT staff with immediate protection and ensure that those responsible will be brought to justice,” says Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Secretary-General of the IRCT.

Just last week, staff from another IRCT member Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) were expelled from Russia on the grounds that they were in violation of Russian visa regulations. The staff were in Russia to provide technical assistance on trauma rehabilitation and prevention of torture to NGO CAT. According to Dignity, the staff had obtained visas and their mission to Russia was publicly announced.