A new report from an intergovernmental international group reveals that human rights abuses — particularly against the LGBTQ community, including intersex people — are continuing in Chechnya nearly two years after the sovereign region of Russia became notorious for its horrifying treatment of queer people.
Sixteen states within the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), an intergovernmental organization consisting of 57 nations, including some outside the continent, joined in the effort to investigate the abuses in Russia and called on the nation to take action against “overwhelming evidence that there have been grave violations of the rights of LGBTI persons in the Chechen Republic.”
The United States, an OSCE members, was among the 16 states.
Chechnya landed in international headlines in the beginning of 2017 when reports alleged harassment, unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial executions. The newly unveiled report stated that “the findings indeed do confirm the major allegations.”
Victims in the Chechen Republic have suffered from a wide range of mistreatment, which has been possible largely because of a lack of legal representation, according to the report. People have been held by authorities for weeks at a time and “in all cases without access to a judge or legal assistance, often without food and even water, while they were regularly beaten with plastic tubes or police sticks or cables or treated with electrical shocks in order to force them to make confessions... often related to the names and details of others, like other LGBTI persons or suspected drug dealers,” the report alleges.
According to the report, anti-gay “purges” started in December of 2016 and continued through at least October of 2018. The victims were kidnapped by police officers at their homes, at work, or even on the side of the road, and brought to a police station. The victims were told that they were picked up “because you are faggots” before they were brought to interrogation rooms to be beaten until they were left with broken bones.
Chechen leaders have also started to mount attacks on other communities as well. A campaign targeting those who struggle with drug addiction was launched in August 2018, and teenagers, lawyers, and independent media are also among those who have been affected.
As a result of the rampant abuses there, human rights defenders such as the Joint Mobile Group have been forced to shut down their offices.
The report expressed deep concern over Russia’s disregard for the OSCE in light of the fact that the nation is a participating state and has violated its pledge to respect human rights.
Russia has done very little to stem the tide of the abuses, the report detailed. The nation’s ombudsman was unable to follow through on a visit to Chechnya last year to investigate the deaths of 27 or more people swept up in the LGBTQ purge. After insisting on an investigation, “she could not prevent the pre-investigation from being closed,” the report explains.
Ty Cobb, who serves as the global director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a written statement that Russia “can no longer deny the existence” of the anti-LGBTQ crimes and asked the Trump administration to take action and accept refugees fleeing the region.
Representatives from OutRight Action International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First could not immediately be reached for comment on the report.