The armed conflict in Chechnya, now in its fourth year, is the most serious human rights crisis of the new decade in Europe. It has taken a disastrous toll on the civilian population and is now one of the greatest threats to stability and rule of law in Russia. Yet the international community's response to it has been shameful and shortsighted.
The international community has a moral and political obligation to protect fundamental rights of people in and around Chechnya. It should with a unified voice be prevailing on the Russian government to halt forced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention, which Russian forces perpetrate on a daily basis. It should be compiling documentation about abuses into an authoritative, official record. It should be vigorously pressing for a credible accountability process for perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law, and should think strategically about how to achieve this when the Russian court system fails to deliver justice. And it should stop Russia from forcing the return of displaced people to areas where their safety and well-being cannot be ensured.But none of this has happened. The international community has instead chosen the path of self-deception, choosing to believe Russia's claims that the situation in Chechnya is stabilizing, and so be spared of making tough decisions about what actions are necessary to stop flagrant abuses and secure the well-being of the people of the region.