I am dismayed by the verdict of the court in Shali sentencing Oyub Titiev to four years of deprivation of liberty in a colony. Mr Titiev, the head of the Chechen office of the Russian Human Rights Centre Memorial, is renowned for his courageous and important human rights work in the region over many years and, particularly, for his quest for accountability for serious human rights violations.
Since the beginning, the accusations of marijuana possession against Titiev have lacked credibility. His counterclaim that the evidence against him had been planted was never given any serious follow-up. In July last year, I drew the attention of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation to the numerous shortcomings in this case identified by the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation (Human Rights Council), and requested that decisive steps be taken to ensure respect for Oyub Titiev’s rights, including by urgently releasing him from custody. I also asked for information about the steps taken by the prosecutorial authorities following the findings of the Human Rights Council. Regrettably, I have not received a reply to date.
The conviction of Oyub Titiev is but the latest example of the hostile and dangerous environment in which human rights defenders operate in the Chechen Republic. This has a broader negative impact on the human rights situation in the region. I once again urge the authorities of the Russian Federation to uphold their obligations and ensure that the judicial system is not used to harass human rights defenders. I will again raise this issue with the Russian authorities as a matter of urgency.