Belgian Council of State Decides to Extradite
The Council of State has confirmed the decision of Belgian Interior Minister, De Clerck on the extradition. The Council of State points out that Arbi Zarmaev is accused of being a co-perpetrator of a murder in 2001, thus the extradition demand has no political motivation.
However, Amnesty International’s Belgium branch believes that if Arbi is handed over to the Russian Federation, he will be at serious risk of being tortured. Moreover, he has a minimal chance for a fair trial. If the extradition is carried out, it is a clear violation of the human rights obligations of Belgium.
Amnesty International of Belgium points out that torture and mistreatment of prisoners are common in Chechnya. The risk of torture is significantly greater in the case of a political opponent of the current administration in Chechnya.
“This is an inappropriate and unfounded reflection. It shows the naive confidence of Belgian authorities towards Chechen justice and the prison system’s impartiality and independence. Several NGOs in Chechnya, numbers of times reported that people who were convicted of crimes are completely different than those for which they were arrested. Often the only proof in court are testimonies and confessions,” said Carmen Dupont, the policy manager of Amnesty International Belgium.
Carmen Dupont criticized the words of the Belgian minister about the diplomatic assurances of Russian authorities on fair treatment. “Such diplomatic assurances against torture are a pure waste of paper. They do not work and these are an absolute mockery of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. If there is a risk that the person will be tortured or mistreated, Belgium may not grant extradition even if the other side makes some promises,” said Dupont.
Now, it is expected that human rights defenders will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the decision of the Council of State and Belgian Interior Ministry to stop the extradition.
*Text was translated by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco