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Rights Group of the Week: Joint Mobile Group

posted 14 Mar 2016, 08:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 14 Mar 2016, 08:53 ]
On 9 March 2016 in Ingushetia unknown assailants assaulted a group of journalists and staff from the Joint Mobile Group, a human rights organization set up in 2009 following the murder of the Chechen human rights defender, Natalia Estemirova, as they were travelling to neighbouring Chechnya. Igor Kalyapin, who chairs the NGO and is a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, reported the attack on the council's website (in Russian). Human Rights Watch described the incident as follows: 'Masked men, armed with baseball bats, brutally attacked a group of foreign and Russian journalists and Russian activists documenting human rights abuses on March 9, 2016, in the North Caucasus. A few hours later, masked men raided the office of a nongovernmental organization in the region. At least 15 men stopped a bus carrying eight people and their driver as the group traveled from Ingushetia to Chechnya and beat them. The group included six journalists – one Norwegian, one Swedish, and four Russian – and two Russian human rights activists. All were injured, and five were hospitalized. The attackers set the bus on fire.' 

Photo: Egor Skovoroda, Twitter

Later that same night, armed men raided the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Karabulak, Ingushetia. i24news reports that, according to Dmitry Utukin, a lawyer for the Committee to Prevent Torture rights group: "Armed men came to our office in five cars. One of them broke the security camera at the entrance. Three others came in through the window." Utukin said the security cameras captured the incident, but no one was in the office at the time. 

In a special statement, Amnesty International deplored the incident, saying: "The violent assault on human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia is further evidence of the authorities’ abject failure to protect those who work to safeguard human rights, said Amnesty International today." Human Rights Watch urged the Russian authorities to immediately carry out an investigation into the two attacks, identify those responsible, and bring them to justice.

'Russia Ingushetia: Journalists and activists "beaten up",' BBC, 9 March 2016
'Rights group raided in Russia's Caucasus after assault on journalists,' i24news, 10 March 2016
'Russia: Brazen assault on journalists and human rights defenders in North Caucasus illustrates official failures,' Amnesty International, 10 March 2016
'Russia: Journalists, Activists Attacked in North Caucasus. Norwegian, Swedish, Russian Reporters Injured,' Human Rights Watch, 9 March 2016