Guðni Bragason, Minister Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Iceland with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), is calling for an investigation of alleged human rights abuses against individuals in Chechnya on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Guðni’s statement this week (in English) expressed “concerns about credible reports of human rights violations and abuses in Chechnya” and invoked the OSCE’s so-called ‘Moscow Mechanism’ to designate “...a mission of experts to address the concerns...centered around allegations of impunity for reported human rights violations and abuses in Chechnya from January 2017 to the present.” The statement was issued on behalf of not only the Icelandic delegation, but also those from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
This escalation of inquiry into the state of human rights abuses in Chechnya follows an August 30 letter sent to the Russian delegation which requested “...concrete information...about credible reports of human rights violations and abuses in Chechnya.” However, according to Guðni, “[t]he letter of September 4 that we received in response unfortunately did not provide a substantive response to our questions.”
“This has only deepened our concern that the Russian Federation is unwilling or unable to address the reports of serious human rights violations and abuses, which contributes to a climate of impunity for authorities in Chechnya,” Guðni’s letter continued. “We believe that the reported violations and abuses reflect a particularly serious threat to the fulfilment of the provisions of the OSCE human dimension...”
It’s considered probable that the Russian Federation has been responsible for human rights violations against Chechens on the basis of “...perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as against human rights defenders, lawyers, independent media, civil society organizations, and others. Among the reported human rights violations and abuses were: allegations of harassment and persecution; arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions; torture; enforced disappearances; and extrajudicial executions.”
Iceland and its fellow OSCE delegations hope that the elected panel of experts will not only establish and report back on the factual situation in the republic, but will also “...give advice to the Russian Federation, to the OSCE, and to the international community on possible solutions to the questions raised.”