Russia: US-inclusive coalition to probe alleged anti-gay Chechnya abuses

A coalition of international partners, including the United States, announced Thursday plans to investigate alleged anti-gay abuses in Chechnya that have sparked worldwide condemnation.

On Thursday, a 16-member group of countries in the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe invoked the organization’s “Moscow Mechanism” to set up an international fact-finding mission to investigate the alleged human rights abuses.

The 57-member OSCE was set up during the Cold War as a forum where the United States could raise human rights and security issues with countries aligned with the Soviet Union. It now serves as a pan-Atlantic forum for conversations on early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

The “Moscow Mechanism,” adopted in 1991, provides OSCE member states the option of sending expert missions to assist participating states in resolving a particular question or problem on human rights, according to the organization’s website. Read more via Washington Blade

Russia will have to answer

On November 1, 2018, sixteen members-states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation invoked the Moscow Mechanism of Human Dimension to investigate the reports of severe human rights violations in the Chechen Republic, including the reports on mass state-orchestrated campaigns against LGBT. Within the framework of the Moscow Mechanism, a mission of appointed experts will carry out an independent inquiry, regardless of the willingness of the Russian Federation to cooperate with the mission. Igor Kochetkov, a representative of the Russian LGBT Network, states that people no longer question the crisis in Chechnya, and the only demand that remains is for Russian to conduct an adequate investigation on the matter.

He comments:
People often ask us, whether it makes sense to call for the international institutions’ attention, since the Russian authorities often ignore their multilateral obligations, and, as a result, no justice can be served through those means. These questions make sense. The officials in Moscow and Grozny continue to deny the mere fact of persecution and killings of LGBT on the territory of the Chechen Republic, constantly reiterating the fact that “there are no gays in Chechnya.” At times, it seems that these officials are not going to investigative anything or prosecute anyone. But does it mean that the victims of these crimes do not deserve support, protection, and justice? Does it mean that the world should not learn about the truth?

It is a direct responsibility of the state to identify and prosecute the perpetrators. But we are the human rights defenders, and our ways to seek the truth play out in a different way. We are striving for the truth, not for the prosecution. We are interested in telling the truth to the people in Russia and beyond, so they can act upon it. They can, and they should express their attitude towards the crimes against humanity. They should stop their cooperation with the perpetrators and those, who serves as their cover-up. Instead, they should start helping those, who suffer from these actions. And for that the people should learn the truth; the truth will guide their work.

We’ve addressed the investigative authorities of Russia, the human rights Ombudsperson, the President – both directly and through various media outlets. All of them did not fulfill their responsibilities. Therefore, we addressed the international community and the multilateral organizations, where the Russian Federation is a member-state. We ask them to review the facts and testimonies that human rights defenders and independent journalists collected, and to provide us with a legal and political assessment of these facts.

While the Russian authorities continue to deny the truth, no one believes them anymore. The initiation of the Moscow Mechanism suggests that independent experts will investigate the situation in Chechnya regardless of Russia’s will to cooperate. For the OSCE countries, it will be hard not to act afterward. Justice bears more importance than prosecution, and the truth is stronger than repressions.

On November 1, 2018, sixteen OSCE member-states invoked the Moscow Mechanism of the Human Dimension. It is an instrument allowing to investigate the reports on the severe human rights violations. Throughout the entire history of the OSCE existence, the member-states have invoked Moscow Mechanism only seven times (including this most recent one against Russia). For the first time in the history of the OSCE region, it concerns the rights of LGBT people.

Within the framework of the Moscow mechanism, the OSCE creates a mission of experts. Russian Federation also can appoint their expert; this expert will be included in the group. The primary objective of the fact-finding mission is to investigate the validity of the numerous reports on human rights violations in the Chechen Republic. Starting from November 1, 2018, the Russian Federation has six days to react to the initiation of the Moscow mechanism and eight more days to appoint its own expert.

Read more via Russian LGBT Network