DISPLACED PERSONS FROM THE CHECHNYA CRISIS: A LEGAL VIEW
Marat Kengerlinsky, MPh/PhD Candidate in European Studies, The Queen’s University Belfast (United Kingdom), LL.M in International Human Rights Law, University of Essex (United Kingdom), BA, LL.M, State University of Baku (Azerbaijan)
The war in Chechnya has spawned one of the tremendous forcible displacements in the past decade. The small population of Chechnya has already produced over 400,000 displaced persons. They fled the territory of the war-torn Chechnya in different directions and sought rescue in many areas adjacent to the conflict zone. Because virtually all those who escaped the conflict remained within the Russian borders, they did not become refugees but found themselves as internally displaced persons (IDPs). Those displaced that are of Chechen origin have mainly moved to the neighbouring national republics, Ingushetia and Daghestan, because of certain traditional and custom similarities with local populace, although some have gone to ethnically Russian territories. The authorities of Ingushetia accepted the large quantity of displaced persons, over 200,000 civilians. Other areas are taking in refugees in relatively small numbers. Stavropol and Krasnodar regions hold, mainly, those refugees who are ethnically Russians.
Many IDPs have been displaced twice or even three times in the course of war. It is unlikely that today the exact number of displaced may be correctly counted, because not all of the IDPs have been displaced at the same time and most of them are still on the move. As fighting surged across the countryside, some people returned to their homes, while others fled from wherever they were at the moment.
The Russian Federation has legal obligations derived from the norms of international human rights and humanitarian law. In this work, the attempt will be made to evaluate the effectiveness of international and national responses in putting into effect the system of protection and assistance for IDPs and to determine the level to which they are provided with adequate legal basis in light of international law. The paper will pursue the aim to explore how far the North Caucasian situation challenges traditional understanding of displaced population.
Based on the existing international legal instruments applicable to internal displacement, I will be examining the situation with observance of basic human rights and freedoms of IDPs from Chechnya. The special consideration will be given to the right to life, right to liberty and security and to dignity and integrity, freedom of movement and the right to humanitarian access, as these are vital rights that should be immediately secured for IDPs. Consequently, it is intended to access the extent to which international law provisions are able to provide adequate protection to this category of people, who become victims of a non-international armed conflict.
Applicability of International Law with respect to IDPs
In situation of armed conflicts, international human rights law and international humanitarian law apply simultaneously. They have a common goal to protect human beings. Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II to the said Conventions are the main instruments of international humanitarian law aimed at protecting all civilians from hostilities of a non-international character.1 Common Article 3 applies to armed strife between governmental armed forces and organised armed insurgents.2 Protocol II goes on further and develops the provisions of Article 3, containing more detailed rules, which might be utilised for internally displaced. Both documents do not directly indicate IDPs, but logically imply this category of civilian population.*
International human rights law does not especially mention IDPs, however, there is a particular feature of human rights that they are all inalienable and applicable to all human beings either in peacetime or during armed conflict, except state emergency cases and legitimate derogation from relevant human rights convention. Every state, either as a result of treaty obligations or based on customary international law, has the duty to respect the universally recognised human rights. Although, it is submitted that human rights might be limited or derogated, “it must be stressed that limitations and derogations are not automatic but only allowed to the extent that they are necessary for safeguarding legitimate interests of the state”.3 Furthermore, in contrast to humanitarian law, it is a domain of human rights law to take care of economic and social set of human rights, which must remain respected even in times of war.
The sources of international human rights law include treaty and customary law. Relevant obligations of states arise from the ratification of different human rights instruments, such as International Covenants on Civil and Political (ICCPR) and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Russian State, as a legal successor of the Soviet Union, is a party to all these legal documents. Besides, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is of particular importance, as its basic tenets have gained widespread acceptance. Its relevant articles will be used in this work as one of the important sources of reference in consideration of IDPs from Chechnya.
In 1998, a set of guiding principles on internal displacement was presented.4 The Guiding Principles reflect human rights and humanitarian law, and address the gaps and grey areas that occur in the existing legal framework. They restate and elaborate established norms of customary international law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.5 They also highlight the need for the effective implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law standards in situations of displacement.6 The Guiding Principles reaffirm numerous legal standards envisioned in the existing international law, which are already bound upon parties and call upon authorities to respect wherefrom derived obligations. Noticeably, the Guiding Principles provide for the protection of internally displaced in a variety of situations and they address a wide range of needs arising from these situations. “Although not a binding instrument, these Principles are a restatement of existing norms of human rights and humanitarian law as well as analogous of refugee law”.7
Legal Treatment of IDPs from the Chechnya Conflict
Although, all existing rights bear equal importance and value, the below considered rights are particularly underlined in the Guiding Principles as the rights, which must be primarily secured for IDPs. Following such a formula, in the next sections, I will explore the situation with human rights of IDPs from Chechnya through the main legal instruments of international law. Let us see the observance of certain human rights of IDPs in a particular case given by the Russian-Chechen war.
Right to life
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of persons 8
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3
Internal wars may be as destructive of human rights and damaging to IDPs as interstate wars. Several international instruments, including ICCPR (Art. 6) and ECHR (Art. 2)9, and the Second Protocol of the Geneva Convention especially affirm individuals’ rights to life. In its turn, the Guiding Principles reiterate that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his/her life. They give special attention to the need to protect IDPs from genocide, murder, summary and arbitrary executions, and enforced disappearances that result in death. So, too, are forms of combat that place civilians at risk, including armed attacks on camps and other settlements, starvation as a method of combat, and use of IDPs to shield military objects or to affect military operations positively or negatively.10
The scale of military force used and the heavy weaponry brought to bear in Chechnya have caused widespread loss of civilian life and destruction. Since the beginning of the conflict, Russian forces have indiscriminately and disproportionately bombed and shelled civilian objects, causing heavy civilian casualties. The High Commissioner for Human Rights in her statement of 16 November 1999 underlined that “indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force (in Chechnya) is causing high civilian loss of life and injuries”.11 The Russian forces ignore the Geneva Convention obligations to focus their attacks on combatants, and appear to take few safeguards to protect civilians, among whom plenty of those who are moving away from the conflict zones. They neglect the principle of proportionality that demands that the response must be proportionate to the threat and every care must be taken to avoid civilian casualties and to observe human rights and humanitarian law standards.12 The bombing campaign has turned many parts of Chechnya to a wasteland and many people to homeless.13
International law especially prohibits military and armed attacks on refugee camps and settlements, so far as they maintain their civilian and humanitarian character.14 The camps must be in places of safety and located in light of the security of the displaced people and, at the same time, be accessible by humanitarian assistance. The government forces should take measures to distinguish persons who require protection and assistance from those who do not.15 Military elements must be disarmed and separated appropriately.16 However, in reality, Russian shelling of refugee camps in Chechnya has triggered a fresh exodus of terrified Chechen civilians into Ingushetia and other surrounding republics. The Russian troops even do not stop doing so even if there is seen an identification sign of the international humanitarian agency. For instance, in October 1999, a Red Cross convoy of displaced persons after an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Chechen-Ingush administrative border had been subject to aerial attack. The vehicles in the convoy were clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem. Such an attack is a mocking violation of the Russian obligations under international humanitarian law to distinguish between civilians and combats and refrain from attacks on civilians.17
The requirement of international law is that a state may use the force only if it is “no more than absolutely necessary in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.”18 Identifying whether the State actions are comparable with the limit of “absolute necessity”, the Stewart v UK case would be illustrative. The Commission on Human Rights held that “the interference with the right to life was legitimate if it was proportionate to the nature of the aim pursued, the dangers of life... and the degree and risk that the force implied might result in loss of lives”19. It is obvious that the Russian State acts in contradiction to these principles.
The Right to Liberty and Security and the Right to Dignity and Integrity
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile20
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9
No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment21
European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3
The right to liberty and security of person means that governments may not arbitrarily arrest or detain people. Clearly, it is an arbitrary and discriminatory exercise of authority to arrest or detain an IDP solely because he or she is displaced or for reasons, such as lack of documentation and registration. It also means for IDPs that no internment or confinement to a camp may be made unless there are exceptional circumstances. Camps must be established only as a mechanism for aiding and protecting IDPs and these facilities should be open to the public.22
The prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is a fundamental human right. Even in emergency situations, responsible authorities may not violate or permit the violation of this right. Nor may IDPs be subject to rape, mutilation, gender-specific violence, forced prostitution or other indecent assault. Because they are removed from their home communities, IDPs are particularly vulnerable to these acts.23
As the Chechens have to rely more and more on guerrilla tactics, the Russian military is responding by denying civilians the chance to escape the fighting and by detaining males of fighting age. Russian forces are still reported to be constantly detaining people in Chechnya at checkpoints and in the territories under their control, either during so-called “cleansing operations” in recently occupied towns or during identity checks on convoys of IDPs, travelling from Chechnya to neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan. People are most often detained for not having proper registration and/or a residence permit, or on suspicion of belonging to the armed Chechen groups. As reported by Amnesty International, women and men are subjected to “filtration” when their identity documents are checked against computer data, which allegedly includes information on suspected members of armed Chechen groups and their relatives. 24 The Russian military searches men for signs that they may have taken part in fighting, such as bruises from rifle recoil, or gunpowder residue. For these reasons, they are usually kept for some time at a detention place at the checkpoint and then taken to “filtration camps”.
Those IDPs who have been able to make their way further to the Russian territory are subject to almost the same treatment by local Russian governments. Ethnic Chechens (and other Caucasians too) in Russian big cities like Moscow, St. Peterborough, Stavropol, Krasnodar and other Russians-inhabited parts of the country, have been subjected to extensive discrimination and persecution, and the whole ethnic group has been targeted by the Russian authorities on account of their identity. Many city municipalities have passed local bylaws reinforcing the residence requirement for outside comers. That restriction makes specific ethnic groups an easy target for law enforcement officials. Special police forces, OMON, and paramilitary Cossacks units of Stavropol and Krasnodar regions are authorised to conduct regular raids on places where Chechens or other Caucasians are supposedly assembled, for instance, markets, trade lanes and refugee hostels, and consequently detain, fine and beat innocent people. Physical harms, racial offences, inhuman and degrading treatment of individuals suspected of lack of registration characterise the situation of IDPs in places of custody.
Amnesty International has documented a number of cases of torture and ill-treatment in police custody over the past five years.25 Following routine identity checks on the street or even taken from their homes, ethnic Chechens have been allegedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment in custody in violation of the prohibition of torture under conditions of the Convention against Torture, ICCPR, ECHR and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT). Amnesty International is not aware of completion so far of any criminal investigation by the authorities into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Chechens in custody. Torture and ill- treatment have reportedly often been used as the way to coerce a detainee to sign a confession relating to possession of drugs, weapons or links with Chechen separatists. Sometimes, ill-treatment occurs without any obvious reason, in what appears to be rather racist. Alleged victims of torture and ill-treatment in custody are mainly Chechen adult men, but cases of ill-treatment of women and adolescents under 18, were also reported.26
Freedom of movement
The displacement of the civilian population shall not be ordered for reasons related to the conflict unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand 27
Geneva Conventions, Protocol II, Article 17
Protection against arbitrary displacement is a fundamental human right. If fully admitted and enforced, this right will help avoid human rights abuses that may occur after displacement. Arbitrary displacement certainly deprives people of the right to freedom of movement by compelling them to leave their homes. Particularly, protection against arbitrary displacement is necessary in times of war, when the general purpose of confronting parties may be to control the territory and the people or to change demographic composition of the population in a particular territory28, as was in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo when Serbian government forces “help” civilians to move out of their houses and to make their ways to somewhere else.29
The Geneva Convention categorically prohibits the indiscriminate use of force that may affect innocent civilians and make them move out of their home places.30 As a general rule, warring parties are prohibited from forcing civilians to move unless they can demonstrate that the security of the affected population or imperative military reasons so demand.31 It provides for the possibility of evacuating civilian population from battle zones to safe areas.
The massive destruction of civilian homes in Chechnya, as well as vital infrastructures such as roads, railways, schools and hospitals, means that hundreds of thousands of displaced persons have no conditions to inhabit the destroyed areas any longer and have to leave them in search of shelter.32 One Russian journalist observed: “Russian forces have chosen the tactics of displacing the population”.33 UN Human Rights Committee noted in its report that “civilian installations such as schools and hospitals were destroyed by government forces, and that a large number of civilians have been killed or displaced as a consequence of the destruction of their homes”.34
Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall within that territory have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence35
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 12
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state 36
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13
The international law provides that people have the right to seek safety wherever they are able to find it. They have the right to remain where they are if that is their choice. They have the right to move to another part of the country. This right is especially important for those who have lost their family, property and have become uprooted by events beyond their control like internal armed conflicts.
The central government’s tolerance on the freedom of movement and the strident campaign against the “Chechen terrorism” encouraged the authorities of Moscow, St. Peterborough, Stavropol and Krasnodar regions and other Russian cities to inhibit the enjoyment of the freedom of movement, despite the fact that domestic laws, including laws on refugees and displaced persons, provide for certain guarantees for freedom of movement for Russian citizens.37 Russian federal law has provided for the abolition of the propiska (residence permit), a remnant of Soviet times, but at regional and local levels, the system is still applied in practice, thus violating not only Russian Constitution, but also international law.38 According to the representative of the Russian Government “the resident permit [propiska] was not compatible with either the Russian Federation’s obligations under international human rights instruments or the national Constitution. However, there were long-standing objections to its replacement by a system requiring only registration with the authorities”.39
IDPs especially face enormous barriers to registration including exorbitant registration fees, proof of ownership of a residence, a written rental contract, or written consent of relatives who agree to house them. This is particularly difficult for persons who cannot afford the high fees and do not have relatives with whom to live. In general, “the system of registering persons does not constitute a restriction of movement, but it provides a means for doing so should the necessity arise... A major problem however is the great potential for abuse, and the lack of safeguards against discriminatory treatment”.40 The absence of propiska makes the persons particularly vulnerable to detention and police harassment during identity raids of OMON in Russian big cities and paramilitary Cossacks units in Krasnodar and Stavropol regions.
Right to Return
Unfortunately, the right to return to one’s home is not stipulated in any international treaty, except the ILO Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.41 The case law also refers to interstate return only. However, a number of the UN documents have clearly addressed this matter. For example, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights affirmed the right of displaced persons to return in safety and dignity to their places of origin or choice within the state.42 IDPs have the right to return voluntary. That means that IDPs have the right not to return, if they realise that danger to their life has not been lifted yet in places of their origin.
IDPs have the right to be protected against forcible return to or resettlement in any place where their life, safety and security would be at risk. Protection from forced returns is as essential for IDPs as the principle of non-refoulement for refugees andis equally categorical in character for internal displacement. “This principle has particular import for IDPs, because it is the loss of their ability to remain in their original homes that characterises their plight.”43
Russian authorities have repeatedly attempted to force IDPs to return to Chechnya by denying them food in the camps or by rolling their train compartments back to Chechnya. Russian military authorities are also attempting to relocate displaced populations to areas of northern Chechnya under Russian control that would place them in war-affected areas and beyond the reach of international humanitarian agencies.44 Following the destruction of the capital, Grozny, and the widespread looting and burning of homes in other parts of Chechnya, many IDPs simply no longer have a home to return to. For example, in summer 2000, the Russian federal authorities removed several hundred IDPs from ten railway wagons at Ingushetia’s makeshift Severny settlement and transferred the empty carriages to Grozny, where most of the housing had been destroyed.45 In a separate development, the authorities stopped supplementary hot food and bread distribution to the displaced, citing financial constraints. There are also reports of the displaced being under pressure to leave privately owned abandoned buildings, factories and farms. Taken together, these developments indicate a pattern of pressure on the IDPs to leave. In the opinion of UNHCR, the entitlement to freedom of movement implicitly includes the rights not only to leave and to return, but also to remain.46
In 1996, the Moscow Mayor signed a resolution ordering the expulsion of all unregistered persons living in Moscow back to their place of last residence. In May 1997, he directed the Moscow Migration Service *
(MMS) to “remove refugees and displaced persons” illegally residing in Moscow. In June 1998, the Civic Assistance Committee, a Moscow-based NGO, reported that the Mayor's “campaign of roundups and repression is continuing and intensifying”.47
IDPs like refugees may be voluntarily returned to the places of their permanent residence, if there no longer exists threat to lives and safeties of persons who left the homes, and all circumstances, which led to forcible movement, have been removed.48 In any case, return of IDPs to places, where peace and stability have not yet been achieved, can obviously undermine the notion of protection.49 Therefore, the authorities holding IDP communities, “have the primary duty and responsibility to establish conditions, as well as provide means, which allow IDPs to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence, or to resettle voluntarily in another part of the country”.50
Right to Recognition before the Law
Everyone shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law51
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 16
Recognition as a person before the law is a universal right. Without such recognition, IDPs are vulnerable to many forms of abuse. Undoubtedly, the enforcement of the above-mentioned propiska system violates more than only one right to freedom of movement and inevitably entails restrictions on other rights. For instance, access to basic social and economic rights is sharply curtailed, and among them are the right to work, to receive free medical care and municipal benefits, the right to a pension and the right to education.52 Without propiska, it is impossible for any Chechen IDP to legally obtain employment, since all employers require proof of propiska before giving a job. The same requirement exists when hospitalising IDPs (except emergency) and when sending IDPs’ children to primary school53. The authorities may arbitrarily demand other documents allowing IDPs to social access and remedies. In some cases, the authorities may unlawfully request certificate of birth, even if a valid ID card is already present. Russian authorities may place unreasonable barriers upon issuance or replacement of documents.In many othercases, they require IDPs to obtain different documents from places of their habitual residence, for example, a driving licence.54
The essential restriction of the freedom of movement, propiska, affects also political and civil rights, such as the right to family, to vote and the right to own property. In some Russian regions, for instance in Voronezh, there is prohibition against registering married couples without notarising documents and restriction on selling real estate to persons without local propiska55. With regard to the latter, it should be noticed that,in fact, IDPs lost their property as a result of bombardment or looting their houses by government forces and, in most cases, they will not be able physically to return to their place of origin. International law strictly provides that governments are responsible for locating people and need for compensation for lost property. In Akdivar and Others v Turkey56, and Selçuk and Asker v Turkey57cases the European Court awarded compensation for the loss of the houses, goods and livestock caused by police forces in PKKí-affected areas. These cases could be nicely demonstrative for Russia, the authorities of which should help IDPs to recover the property and possessions or to obtain appropriate compensation. It should be noted that the Constitutional of Russia declared in its judgement concerning Chechnya that compensation should be awarded to Chechens whose property has been destroyed by the armed forces of the Russian Federation. However, so far, no a single court has awarded compensation despite numerous claims.58
Because the Chechen IDPs are not living any longer in places of their habitual residence and are not allowed to register in new places, they are too frequently deprived of the ability to fully participate in civil and public life. They do not have the right to vote, to be elected and to participate in public administration in places of their arrival. The Guiding Principles define that regardless of the place of residence, IDPs should not be discriminated as to their civil and political rights.59 “Wherever displaced persons choose to reside within the country, they should not face discrimination as a result of having been displaced.”60
Right to Humanitarian Access
The right to receive humanitarian assistance, and to offer it, is a fundamental humanitarian principle, which should be enjoyed by all citizens of all countries61
Principles of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes
That the international community has recently come to realise the problem of internal displacement is a positive factor and there is a certain trend that increasingly more international organisations are ready to join the efforts of international community to cope with that new challenge. However, as the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on IDPs, Mr. F. Deng concedes, “up to now, their involvement has mostly been of an ad hoc nature and there is general agreement that efforts to alleviate the plight of IDPs have to be further streamlined”.62 Indeed, the responsibility for internally displaced people has not been vested adequately with any international agency.
On the other hand, resistance of states continues to be a serious obstacle to international involvement in displacement matters. Denial to international organisations in having access to displaced population is the most repulsive refusal, which significantly limits the power of humanitarian and relief interference to IDPs. “Without access to and by the displaced, and those affected by conflict... rights are more likely to be violated and the objectives of protection and solution less likely to be obtained”.63 The UN system, a prominent political and humanitarian actor in other conflicts, is conspicuously absent from Chechnya, particularly in the second round of the war, and UN humanitarian organisations have acquiesced in Russian-imposed restrictions, as well as other constraints of a political nature, which have barred them from Chechnya and limited them to providing aid to the displaced on the periphery of the conflict.64
Another serious problem in Chechnya is the lack of security for humanitarian workers. Where humanitarian workers provide assistance to the civilian victims, they may in turn be perceived as promoting the goals of one of the parties, and as a result be specifically targeted by the other. A number of organisations, thus, had to withdraw their offices from Chechnya following a series of kidnappings and killings of expatriate relief workers. At present, humanitarian aid is distributed mainly to those republican authorities, which appeal for help, mainly, to the government of Ingushetia.
Within the limited scope of operation given by the Russian Government to relief operations, international humanitarian agencies have been able to provide emergency relief among IDPs, but chiefly, outside Chechnya. They have conducted food and material distribution, emergency medical supplies and care to the hospitals and water deliveries to Grozny, as well as a number of non-food assistance. For instance, ICRC has pursued its traditional responsibility visiting places of detention and established a special programme to disseminate international humanitarian law.
The main agency responsible for IDPs under its expanded mandate, the UNHCR, has also been able to provide significant humanitarian assistance to displaced persons from Chechnya. However, scare patterns of protection activities of UNHCR in Northern Caucasus can be given proving that this organisation faces large problems in defending infringed rights of the targeted groups of people that caused objectively by war and deliberately by Russian authorities
According to the UNHCR’s own admission, the organisation’s involvement was primarily to monitor the safety of IDPs, their needs and the distribution of aid materials. The UNHCR provided food for IDPs, shelter, emergency domestic items and improved access to water and sanitation. It distributed rations of wheat, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and barley and provided several hundred tents, stoves, plastic sheets, blankets, hygiene items and clothes to improve the living conditions of IDPs in Ingushetia and Dagestan.65 UNHCR places also great emphasis on integration programmes for Russian IDPs from Chechnya living in Stavropol and Krasnodar regions.
Indeed, material support is essential for the survival of stranded people, but food, medicine or shelter cannot substitute a value of physical protection. In my opinion, the provision of international protection is of primary importance for the UNHCR. It appears that in the North Caucasus UNHCR decided to focus on humanitarian aid, meanwhile, forgetting its statutory responsibilities to take measures of physical protection and safety for IDPs. “In Chechnya, UNHCR has been less than outspoken about protection concerns, presumably out of fear that to do so would jeopardise its assistance role”.66 The fundamental objective of the UNHCR’s interest in and involvement with internally displaced persons should be to promote their protection and pursue solutions, through operational activities as well as advocacy based on the Guiding Principles.67
From the other side, when a state is not willing or not capable of providing necessary humanitarian assistance to uprooted population, then it should ensure that international humanitarian organisations have access to IDPs and can carry out their humanitarian tasks. It is the principle of customary law that “all authorities concerned shall grant and facilitate the free passage of humanitarian assistance”.68 Time has shown that the Russian authorities acted contrary to the humanitarian principles and not only banned many humanitarian aids directly aimed at IDPs in the conflict zones, but intentionally closed free passages and even bombed humanitarian convoys.
Throughout the paper, we have examined the implication of international legal regime for IDPs from Chechnya. We have also been able to explore the specific situation of Chechen IDPs and witnessed vicious violations of human rights and humanitarian standards by Russian military and civil authorities. Practically, many internationally recognised human rights have been violated during the war in Chechnya, and due to interdependence and interrelation of all human rights, especially tough in times of war, violation of one right tragically brings about violation of other right(s). The Guiding Principles- the product of international law- have been a valuable guide in the assessment of the situation in Northern Caucasus. It prompted us to make our special focus on those fundamental rights of people that must be primarily secured in cases of forcible displacement.
It has become obvious that Russia is flexing its military muscle toward the North Caucasian republic. The entire power of a Russian military machine targeting the West in times of the Cold War has now shifted to Russia’s south border. To that end, the West has to feel at least some moral compassion for the events occurring in Chechnya. However, it basically refrains to expressing general concerns and political statements regarding the general situation in the conflict area. Apart from humanitarian assistance, since the outbreak of the war no radical political action from the international community has been taken in order to stop the bloodshed in Chechnya. “Human rights protection activities by international organisations are limited to reports released after events have occurred, or to restrained protests by humanitarian agencies in the field”.69 Plenty of statements and appeals addressed to the Russian government would probably do in a normal society with established human rights principles and democratic institutions.
It is clear that international community is bewaring of an open humanitarian intervention into the nuclear Russia, whatever form it could be. On the other hand, reluctance and negligence by Russian authorities considering killing and massacre of people an internal matter, repel the mechanisms of any interference. Today, Russia does not comply with obligations derived from the internationally taken obligations either within the UN or the Council of Europe when it comes to situation in Chechnya. There should be therefore a proper advocacy campaign among juridical and government officials as well as IDPs to familiarise them with the principles of protection and respect for human rights and to encourage them to turn to international and regional instruments.
Summing up, I would like to point out that international community has taken visible steps so that Russia could become its equal member and adhere to the main principles of international law. In return, the West has the full right to demand from Russia to stop the war and to take care of innocent civilians including IDPs. It should be fair to expect from Russia that she will not only admit declaratorily her adherence to the main attributes of democratic and civilised society, but will also be able to practically guarantee the state protection and promotion of human rights for all its citizens, and in particular, for those who are at the moment in an acute need of that- INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS FROM CHECHNYA.
1 Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol II, adopted on 8 June 1977, Entry into force: 7 December 1978. For text see A. Roberts, Documents on the Laws of War (Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 483-493
2 R. Cohen and F. Deng, Masses in Flight. The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement (Washington, The Brooking Institution, 1998), p.74
* - The Russian Federation is a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The Soviet Union ratified both the 1977 Additional Protocols on 29 September 1989 to become effective on 29 March 1990. The Russian Federation deposited a notification of continuation on 13 January 1992
3 W. Kalin, “The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Introduction”, 10 IJRL 557, at 560
19Stewart v UK, European Commission on Human Rights, Application No. 10044/82, 10.07.1984, par. 18-19
20 Brownlie, supra, n. 8, pp. 21-27
21Ibid, pp. 326-341
22 Martin, supra, n. 5, at 27
24 Brief Summary of Concerns about Human Rights Violations in the Chechen Republic (EUR 46/020/1996 01/04/1996, Russian Federation). For text see Amnesty International website, <http://www.amnesty.org>, accessed 2 September 2000. See also article “Confession at any cost. Police Torture in Russia”, November 1999. Human Rights Watch website: <http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/russia>
25 “Torture in Russia: "This man-made Hell", Amnesty International Report, April 1997 (EUR 46/04/97)
39 Summary Record of the 1135th Meeting of the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Russian Federation. 05/03/96/ CERD/C/SR.1135. For text see UNHCHR website, <http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf>
40 C. Beyani, Human Rights and the Movement of People within States (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 21
41 Convention, adopted on 7 June 1989. For text see Brownlie, supra, n. 8, pp. 303-316
42 Resolution (UN Doc., E/CN.4/1995/2, E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/56), adopted on 28 October 1994. For text see UNHCHR’s website, <http://www.unhchr.ch>
43 Martin, supra, n. 5, at 29
44 O. Orlov and A. Cherkasov, Violations of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: Situation of Civilians Who Fled the Conflict Zone (Moscow, Memorial Human Rights Centre 2000), p. 246
45 R.Aushev, The President of Ingushetia. AFR Reports, 12 February 2000
46 Erin D. Mooney, “Presence, Ergo Protection? UNPROFOR, UNHCR and the ICRC in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina”, 7 IJRL 407 (1995), at 422
47 O. Orlov and A. Cherkasov, Rossiya –Chechnya: Tsep Oshibok i Prestupleniy (Russia-Chechnya: Chain of Mistakes and Crimes) (Moskva, Zvenya, 1998), p. 210
*- By the Presidential Decree the Federal Migration Service was incorporated in the Ministry on Nationalities as a sub-division in spring 2000 that may demonstrate general position of the Russian government to the problems of IDPs
48Soering case, judgement of 7 July 1989
49 A. Helton, “Legal Dimensions of Responses to Complex Humanitarian Emergencies”, 10 IJRL 533 (1998), at 536
50 Guiding Principle, supra, n. 4
51 Brownlie, supra, n. 8, p. 125-143
52 Human Rights Watch Report, The Russian Federation, Vol. 8, No. 7 (D), (1996) p. 18
53 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Russian Federation. 10/11/99.CRC/C/15/Add. 110. For text see UNHCHR’s website: <http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf>
54 “The Propiska Legacy: A Source of Woe for Newcomers in Russia”, 20 Forced Migration Monitor 1 (1997), at 3
55 Human Rights Watch Report, The Russian Federation, Vol.8, No.7 (D) (1996), p.18
56Akdivar and Others v Turkey, judgement of 1 April 1998, Reports 1998-II
57Selçuk and Asker v Turkey, judgement of 24 April 1994, Reports 1998-II
- Kurdish Marxist organization fighting government forces in South-East of Turkey
62 F. Deng, “The International Protection of the Internally Displaced”, Special Issue, IJRL 74 (1995), at 86
63 Goodwin-Gill, supra, n. 14, at 253
64 G. Hansen and R. Seely, War and Humanitarian Action in Chechnya (Brown, Institute for International Studies, 1996), p.x
65 “Chechnya Emergency”. UNHCR Global Report (1999), p. 300
66 R. Cohen, “Protecting the Internally Displaced”, in World Refugee Survey 1996. Annual Assessment of Conditions affecting Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced People (Washington, US Committee for Refugees, 1996), p.23