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Russia: Collective Responsibility for Acts of Terrorism

(Dec. 24, 2014) On December 5, 2014, Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of the Chechnya Republic, one of 85 constituent components of the Russian Federation, issued a statement following an attack the day before by Islamist insurgents in the capital city of Chechnya in which 14 law enforcement officers were killed and 36 wounded. Kadyrov declared that counterterrorist operations in the Chechnya Republic will become tougher, and relatives of the alleged terrorists will be held responsible for such persons’ actions. He said that even without a law to that effect, “in Chechnya, parents will be responsible for deeds of their sons and daughters. If an insurgent murders anyone in Chechnya, the insurgent’s family will be immediately exiled from Chechnya without the right to return, and their house will be demolished.” (Head of Chechnya Described How Insurgents’ Families Will Be Punished, NEWSRU.COM (Dec. 5, 2014) (in Russian).)

Reportedly, during the three days after the issuance of Kadyrov’s statement, eight private houses in five villages across Chechnya were burned down by unidentified individuals. The houses belonged to people whose relatives are allegedly members of illegal military groups who supposedly participated in the December 4 attack. (Elena Milashina, Isn’t a Threat to Kill Illegal?, NOVAYA GAZETA (Dec. 15, 2014) (in Russian).)

Reports submitted by human rights organizations to Russian federal law enforcement authorities on these illegal actions by authorities in Chechnya have received no comment. (Id.) European Union has expressed its concern about the actions and about the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders in Chechnya. (Statement by the Spokesperson on Recent Human Rights Developments in Chechnya, EUROPEAN UNION EXTERNAL ACTION SERVICE (Dec. 17, 2014).) Although Russian President Vladimir Putin, when addressing the situation in Chechnya, stated in a recent interview that extrajudicial punishments are illegal in Russia, Kadyrov responded that the actions that had been taken against alleged terrorists’ relatives totally correspond with “the expectations of the Chechen people.” (Kadyrov Responded to Putin’s Request to Avoid Extrajudicial Punishments, NOVAYA GAZETA (Dec. 19, 2014) (in Russian).)

At present, Russian law allows making relatives of convicted terrorists financially responsible for any damage inflicted in a terrorist attack. (Peter Roudik, Russia: Law Requires Terrorists to Compensate Their Victims, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Oct. 25, 2013).)