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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 09:46 GMT
Amnesty criticises Russia on human rights
A woman walks among the rubble in the Chechen capital, Grozny
Chechnya: Abuses on both sides, says Amnesty

As Russia mulls over the outcome of the Moscow theatre siege, the human rights group Amnesty International has launched a major campaign against alleged human rights abuses in the country.

A woman leaves flowers at a memorial for the victims of the theatre siege
Russia may not be in the mood just at the moment to listen
The timing of the Amnesty campaign, Justice for Everybody, is perhaps unfortunate, coming at a time when people's minds are inevitably on other things.

Amnesty has moved quickly to take account of the hostage-taking.

Its Secretary General, Irene Khan, has described it as a "despicable abuse of human rights" and expressed her condolences to the grieving families.

But Amnesty's intention was to draw attention to a wide range of alleged abuses in Russia, not just by criminals and terrorists, but by the police, the army and other sections of the legal authorities.

At the moment, Russia may not be in the mood to listen.

Both sides accused

Amnesty's 100-page report on human rights in Russia - unveiled at a press conference in Moscow - contains details of rape and torture in police custody.

Most of the alleged incidents involve Russians but there are also cases of bias against ethnic minorities.

Amnesty recommendations
End to propiska (internal passport) system
Domestic violence should be criminal offence
Cut number of children in jail

It recommends that Russia removes the propiska (or internal passport system), makes domestic violence a criminal offence, and reduces the number of children imprisoned.

In the section on Chechnya, the report condemns abuses by both sides.

The rebels have targeted civilians working in the pro-Moscow administration, and are reported to have executed captured members of the armed forces.

But Amnesty has also investigated what it calls "numerous, consistent and credible reports" that Russian forces have been responsible for illegal executions and torture.

In her covering comments, Irene Khan appeals to President Vladimir Putin not to follow the West in curtailing human rights in the name of combating terrorism.

The Russian president, she says, must not use the "war on terrorism" to avoid confronting the denial of justice which permeates all of Russian society.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Amnesty's Secretary General Irene Khan
"There has been very little investigation by the Russian authorities"
Former Soviet army officer Vitaly Shlykov
"Historically the Russia army was pretty cruel to its opponents"

Siege reports

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Chechen conflict

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23 Jul 02 | Europe
20 Apr 02 | Europe
16 Jan 02 | Americas
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