Russian Federation: Members of the Joint Mobile Group and journalists attacked in Ingushetia
Geneva-Paris, March 14, 2016. Following the violent
assault on members of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) and journalists in the
Russian Republic of Ingushetia, near Chechnya border, on March 9, 2016, the
Observatory urges the Russian authorities to shed full light on those attacks
and bring those responsible to justice.
On March 9, 2016, masked assailants in three cars blocked a small bus
carrying two members of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) as well as six foreign and
Russian journalists near the border of Chechnya, violently beat them with bats,
robbed them and set the vehicle on fire. According to
reports, the attackers called the defenders and journalists by their names, and
accused them to be in Chechnya to “defend terrorists”.
The human rights defenders and journalists
were participating in a tour organised by the Russian NGO Committee for
Prevention of Torture to report on human rights violations in Chechnya and
the group had noticed they were under surveillance since the start of their
tour, on March 7. The police investigating the bus attack reportedly did
not find any trace of the computers carried by the group in the bus, which
would indicate they were taken by the
Several hours after the attack, a group of unidentified camouflaged
armed men who came in five cars also broke in JMG’s offices in the Ingush town
of Karabulak and stole several computers and material. The Observatory fears
that the aim of the attacks was not only to intimidate and violently assault
the activists and journalists, but also to take possession of their data.
“We are shocked by these new attacks. If there
is no torture to hide there is no reason to prevent activists and journalists
from entering the region”,
said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “Is it too much to ask for a
‘democratic government’ to condemn such attacks and to investigate those
included Mr. Ivan Zhiltsov and Ms. Ekaterina Vanslova, two
members of the Committee for Prevention of Torture; Mr. Oeystein Windstad,
a correspondent from the Norwegian Ny Tid
newspaper; Ms. Lena Maria Persson Loefgren, a Swedish public radio
journalist; Ms. Aleksandra Elagina from The New Times, Mr. Egor Skovoroda from Mediazona, freelance journalist Mikhail
Solunin and Mr. Anton Prusakov, from the Kommersant newspaper, as
well as the bus driver.
Joint Mobile Group (JMG) is a renowned human rights organisation coordinated by
the Committee for Prevention of Torture that has played a crucial role in
revealing and documenting continued violations of human rights committed in
Chechnya. In 2013, the JMG was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights
JMG has already been subjected to attacks in the past. In December 2014, the
offices of JMG in Grozny (Chechnya) were set ablaze. Activists were captured
and searched by masked armed men. On June 3, 2015, the offices of the JMG in Grozny were again violently
attacked and destroyed by an organised mob.
These attacks were committed openly and videotaped, yet they
“We urge the Russian authorities to
bring those responsible to justice, to end all acts of violence against human
rights defenders and to stop feeding the impunity by creating a negative image
of all media and human right work expressing dissent”, concluded FIDH
President Karim Lahidji.
The Observatory for the
Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by
the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this
programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against
human rights defenders.