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Joint Press Release: Human rights defender Oyub Titiev convicted following unfair and absurd judicial process

Geneva-Paris-Brussels,March 18, 2019. Today a court inChechnya, Russia, sentenced human rights defender Oyub Titiev to four years inprison on trumped-up charges after an unfair trial. Titiev and the human rightsNGO for which he was working - Memorial, have long been a thorn in the side ofthe local authorities for their key role in documenting grave human rightsviolations in Chechnya.

FIDH and OMCT, under the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, together with IPHR, unequivocally condemntoday’s conviction of Oyub Titiev by the Shali City Court for“possession of marijuana on an especially large scale” (Article 228(2) of theRussian Criminal Code).

The criminal proceedings against Mr. Titiev,detained since his arrest on January 9, 2018, constitute amockery of justice and serve the sole purpose of humiliating and punishingTitiev for his human rights activities. Today’s ruling, which was observed bythe Observatory and IPHR, also delivers a dire warning to other human rightsdefenders either to remain silent or face the consequences.

It is appalling how a local court couldsentence a high-profile defender in breach of every possible fair trialstandard, despite huge attention locally and internationally. One can onlyimagine what does administration of justice look like in 'ordinary' cases thatattract no attention", said Brigitte Dufour, IPHR’s Director.

Fabricatedcharges and unfair trial

On July 9, 2018, Mr. Titiev’s trial startedbefore Judge Zainetdinova of the Shali City Court. At each court hearing Titievwas seated in a metal cage in the middle of the court room, a practice whichthe European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly condemned as constitutinginhuman and degrading treatment.

Titiev’s trial was replete with violations of fair trial standards.Prior to the trial’s start, Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, publicly claimedthat Titiev is a drug user, thereby violating the presumption of innocence ofthe accused. During the eight months long trial, Judge Zainetdinova refuseddefense’s repeated motions to compel an investigation into well-substantiatedallegations that marijuana was planted in Titiev’s car. Indeed, the judgedenied all but two of over thirty motions by Titiev’slawyers challenging the prosecution’s fabricated evidence.

Oyub Titiev’s trial was a complete travestyof justice, reminiscent of the show trials of the Stalin era. And like backthen, the goal was not so much to punish as to humiliate. Precisely for thisreason, the authorities depicted and charged Oyub as a junkie - Kadyrovrepeatedly referred to Oyub as a ‘drug addict’ - so Oyub would not only losehis freedom but also his honor - which is all-important in Chechen society,” said Gerald Staberock,OMCT Secretary General.

Systematicharassment of human rights defenders in Chechnya

Oyub Titiev has worked for Memorial since 2001.After the murder of Natalia Estamirovain 2009, he became the head of the Grozny office of Memorial, one of the oldestand well-respected Russian human rights organisations, and the last humanrights NGO with an office in Chechnya.

“This absurd trial might very well mark the endof Memorial’s activities in Chechnya. Perhaps even more importantly, it has thepotential to complete Kadyrov’s program of eradication of human rightsdefenders from Chechnya, thus removing the last remaining barrier to theauthorities’ abuses,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President.


The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programmeis to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against humanrights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

International Partnership for Human Rights(IPHR) is an independent, non-governmental organization founded in 2008. Basedin Brussels, IPHR works closely together with civil society groups fromdifferent countries to raise human rights concerns at the international leveland promote respect for the rights of vulnerable communities.

For more information, please contact:

· OMCT: Iolanda Jaquemet / Roemer Lemaitre: + 41 79 539 41 06 / + 4122 809 49 39

· FIDH: Eva Canan: + 33 6 48 05 91 57

· IPHR: Simon Papuashvili: +32 494 75 39 42

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