Picket on the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims with participation of rights defenders and residents of Chechnya who suffered from rights violations. Chechnya, Grozny, June 24, 2011. Photo by the press service of the Chechen Representative Office of the IRPO "Committee against Torture"

29 June 2011, 14:00

Questioning of "Dosh": Chechen residents hardly trust in local human rights organizations

Residents of Chechnya hardly trust in the official agencies, which activity is aimed at human rights protection, and out of 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country only the Human Rights Centre "Memorial" faces the relative confidence of the population. These are the results of a questioning survey conducted by the Caucasian independent magazine "Dosh".

By a represetative sample in May and June in various cities and districts of the republic the editorial staff of the magazine "Dosh" together with the volunteers of the Interregional Public Organization "Centre of Caucasian Initiative" questioned 2,000 people. In total, 1,056 women and 944 men aged from 14 to 70 years participated in the questioning. The social status of the respondents included students, housekeepers, medical specialists, teachers, unemployed, students, representatives of small and medium-sized businesses, including working in the market, and taxi drivers.

Respondents were asked to answer to the following questions: "What kind of human rights organizations do you know?" and "Which of human rights organizations that you know would you address for help in case of violation of your rights?"

According to the survey 41.8 per cent of the respondents named as a known human rights organization the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", 16.7 per cent named the administration of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, 0.4 per cent - the prosecutor's office, and 0.3% - the Ministry of the Internal Affairs (MIA). And 40.8 per cent of the respondents said that they did not know any human rights organizations in the republic.

Most respondents (33.7 per cent) to the question of to whom they would address for help in case of violation of their rights answered "no one in Chechnya". 32.2 per cent of the respondents are ready to address their relatives, 29.3 per cent are ready to go to the HRC "Memorial", 3.9 per cent - to the administration of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic. Another 0.9 per cent of the respondents said that they would appeal to the Neftepolk named after Akhmat Kadyrov.

In the course of the questioning no answers were offered to the respondents, all answers were given exceptionally by the interviewed people.

As a result, the magazine "Dosh" notes that the residents of the republic do not make any distinction between the power agencies, law enforcement authorities and public organizations, and this fact reflects the extremely low level of the above institutions' activities.

Among the reasons for this fact, the magazine mention the government policy that shapes citizens' negative attitude to any initiative that comes not from the government itself, and the presence in non-governmental sector of a large number of occasional and sometimes simply dishonest people who discredit the very idea of human rights activity.

Nurdi Nukhazhiev, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, refused to comment on the questioning results. However, in his interview with the magazine "Dosh" Mr Nukhazhiev said that the republican NGOs helped people as they could, improved their activity and experience. According to Mr Nukhazhiev, several years ago there were many human rights organizations, and now their number decreased, but the quality of activities of the remained ones improved.

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