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UN expert postpones Chechnya mission over issue of unannounced visit to detainees

UN expert postpones Chechnya mission over issue of unannounced visit to detainees

Manfred Nowak
A United Nations expert on torture has postponed a fact-finding mission to Russia, including the troubled region of Chechnya, because of differences over making unannounced visits to detention centres and holding private interviews with detainees.

Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said in a statement today that the Russian Government had invited him to carry out a fact-finding visit, with a particular focus on the North Caucasus Republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, from 9 to 20 October 2006.

“However, at a very late stage in the preparations, he was informed by the Government that certain elements of his Terms of Reference for carrying out visits to detention facilities would contravene Russian Federation law, particularly with respect to carrying out unannounced visits, and holding private interviews with detainees,” the statement said.

“Since these issues could not be resolved prior to the visit, he regrets to announce that he is not in a position to proceed as planned,” it added.

Mr. Nowak said he had been assured by the Government that “a mutually agreeable solution will be arrived at to ensure that this important mission is carried out in the near future.”

In February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said after a visit that she had “very serious concerns” about Chechnya’s law enforcement system, and was particularly disturbed by the use of torture to extract confessions and information, and the intimidation of people who make complaints against public officials.

Special Rapporteurs are unpaid and serve in a personal capacity, reporting to the UN Human Rights Council.