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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Chechnya torture 'not being tackled'
By Stephen Dalziel
BBC Russian affairs analyst

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe has issued a strongly-worded denouncement of the use of torture by Russian forces in Chechnya.

Members of the committee have made six visits to Chechnya since the current conflict began in 1999.

Chechen being interrogated in filtration camp
The report cites abuse of Chechens held in custody
This latest report has been issued, the committee says, because of the failure of the Russian authorities to deal with the problem.

The report begins with an acknowledgement of the difficulties faced by Russian authorities in their efforts to restore order in Chechnya.

It condemns the loss of life and the suffering which has been inflicted on federal forces by combatants on the side of the Chechen rebels.

But the bulk of the report concerns the serious human rights violations committed by the federal forces against the Chechens.

Physical torture claim

It is two years to the day since the committee issued its last report, in which it first criticised the failure of the Russian authorities to deal with cases of torture.

It makes it clear that this latest report has come about because of the Russians' failure to act upon the recommendations of the first report.

As well as interviews with hundreds of people who have been held by Russian forces, the committee maintains that medical evidence points to the use of physical torture against detainees.

The committee alleges, too, that illegal detentions have been widespread, and that there is still a worrying number of cases of people simply disappearing.

The report comes in the wake of a double suicide bombing by Chechen radicals of a rock concert in Moscow last Saturday, and another bomb in Moscow on Thursday morning.

The tone of the report suggests that the brutal actions of federal forces in Chechnya could well lead to more Chechen sympathisers being pushed towards extreme acts.

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