Following the arrest of the human rights activist and director of the Chechnya office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Oyub Titiev, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler issued the following statement today (10 January):
I am extremely concerned about the arrest of Oyub Titiev, the office director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya. With their tireless commitment to human rights, Mr Titiev and Memorial are making an invaluable contribution to a more open society.
I issue an urgent call to the investigating authorities now to do all they can to clarify the allegations directed at Oyub Titiev quickly and, while doing so, protect all his constitutional rights, also bearing in mind that his predecessor, Natalia Estemirova, was murdered in 2009.´
It must be possible to exercise civic engagement within the law in a free and independent manner. Above all in the regions in the northern Caucasus particularly affected by human rights violations, Russia must ensure that the rights of the people living there are protected in their entirety, including the right to life and freedom from bodily harm, protection from torture as well as freedom of opinion and assembly.
In Russia and internationally, Memorial, a civil society organisation, is recognised as making a particularly constructive contribution to promoting democracy and tolerance, as well as to protecting human rights.
The call I issue to Russia is that it should enable the Memorial staff to perform their work without hindrance.
On 9 January 2018, the Russian human rights activist and director of the Chechnya office of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Oyub Titiev, was arrested. His predecessor, Natalia Estemirova, was shot in 2009. The crime has still not been solved. The non-governmental organisation Memorial, whose founders include Andrei Sakharov and Sergei Kovalyov, is one of the leading human rights organisations in Russia. Since 1988 it has been committed to the investigation of Stalinist crimes and to promoting the development of a free democratic society. In particular, Memorial focuses on the human rights situation in the northern Caucasus.