Board of the Russian LGBT Network on the necessity to conduct an efficient investigation of LGBT persecution in Chechnya

A year has passed since the publication of first testimonies of LGBT people that faced persecution in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. However the unlawful detentions, humiliation and torture of LGBT people in Northern Caucasus persist.

The Russian LGBT Network estimated more than 200 people who were directly or indirectly affected by the campaign aimed at ’’cleansing the nation of gays’’ and were forced to flee from persecution leaving their homeland. Dozens of LGBT people, who survived the inhuman treatment at the hands of police and military in the underground prisons, were forced to leave their family, beloved ones and their home.

Those condemned to torture and unlawful imprisonment, could not have possibly opposed battery, blackmail and other illicit actions perpetrated against them by the law-enforcement agencies. Some of the victims passed away in the prisons, others were left defenseless after being released, given that addressing the police for the justice on these grave violations would be addressing the perpetrators directly.

In addition, the so-called tradition of ’’honor killings’’ is also practiced in Chechnya. This is a practice of brutal lynching of a person for their ’’dishonorable behavior’’ which ’’casts dirt on the family honor’’ carried out by family members and relatives. Often, after being released from the prisons in which they were illegally kept, the victims were handed over to the family and relatives, who were actively encouraged to ’’clear the stain from their family line’’ with their own devices, meaning that they needed to administer a punishment worthy of the ’’transgression’’ made. According to Chechen tradition, the family bears the responsibility for its own honor in the eyes of the whole society. This is one of the reasons why the survivors, even after having left Chechnya, could not report their experiences to the authorities, knowing that this would mean painting a target on the back of the family and loved ones who remained in the Republic.

In 2017, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin was addressed personally by heads of European states: Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and President of France Emmanuel Macron, requesting the investigation of the persecutions based on sexual orientation and gender identity in North Caucasus. In Russia, Federal Human Rights Ombudsman, Tatyana Moskalkova assumed the responsibility of raising the issue of situation in Chechnya, with the Russian president. During the meeting with the Ombudsman, Vladimir Putin promised to take measures to ensure investigation of the matter by the Federal authorities.

Testimonies of the survivors were submitted to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, to carry out the preliminary investigation, however, the inquiry was carried out by the regional Chechen investigation instead, which did not reveal any signs of violations reported by the victims. Based on these findings, the investigation was closed and the perpetrators never faced any criminal charges.

We demand that the inquiry is resumed by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and that the investigation of the crimes against humanity, whose survivors were the citizens of the Russian Federation based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, is thorough.

Board of the Russian LGBT Network