NGO takes legal action against Chechen officials’ anti-gay purges

Anti-gay purges first came to light in Chechnya in 2017 and now a criminal complaint in Germany hopes to see some justice.


A criminal complaint has been taken against five Chechen officials who are in the inner circles of the autocratic leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, in an effort to seek justice for the anti-gay purges that have taken place in the semi-autonomous Russian republic, according to a report in the Guardian.

The complaint accuses the Chechen military and state apparatus of persecution, unlawful arrests, torture, sexual violence and incitement to murder at least 150 individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation since February 2017.

In 2017, there had been an attempt to bring Chechnya to the International Criminal Court (ICC) but it was unsuccessful as Russia had withdrawn from its jurisdiction. This case is being taken in Germany as the country allows cases of human rights violations to be taken regardless of where they took place in a policy of universal jurisdiction.

In December 2018, OSCE Moscow Mechanism rapporteur’s independent report on the situation in Chechnya found “clear evidence of the successive purges against LGBTQ+ persons” in Chechnya as well as of numerous other grave Human Rights violations. The report documented that LGBTQ+ persons in Chechnya had been subjected to systematic harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings.

If this case, which was submitted by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the Russian LGBT Network, is taken on by Germany’s general prosecutor it would mean that Kadyrov’s associates could face arrest if they enter Germany.

“If no other jurisdiction investigates, Germany is able and must be willing to take over tasks, representing thereby Europe and the international community,” ECCHR founder Wolfgang Kaleck told the Guardian.

On Monday, the Equal Rights Coalition released a statement on the anti-gay purges in Chechnya: “We call on the Russian Federation to implement the recommendations of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism rapporteur without further delay. In particular to launch an effective, impartial, and transparent inquiry into the systematic persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya and to end impunity for its perpetrators.”

The Equal Rights Coalition is an intergovernmental body of 42 countries that aims to advance LGBTQ+ rights. It includes countries such as the UK, France , the US and Chile. Ireland joined in 2019 but it was not a co-signatory of the recent statement. 

Last month, the EU sanctioned Russia over the rights abuses in Chechnya. The bloc blacklisted Aiub Vakhaevich Kataev, a senior official at the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry in Chechnya, and Abuzaid Dzhandarovich Vismuradov, deputy prime minister of the Chechnya region and the commander of a special security unit that the EU said was responsible for persecution. According to the Guardian, both of these men are also included in the ECCHR’s criminal complaint.

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