Virtual WiP: Conflict-related disappearances in Caucasus

CRRC, ARISC and American Councils are proud to present the 6th talk of the 2020 Spring Series of the Tbilisi Works-in-Progress series, now celebrating its 10th year!

Given the current COVID19 situation, we will once again hold the Works-in-Progress session virtually through Google Hangouts. To join the event, copy this link:

“Deferring Criminal Accountability: Humanitarian Resolution of conflict-related disappearances in the Caucasus”

by Mariat Imaeva, Dublin City University

Date: April 8, 2020, at 18:30
Virtual venue:

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 people have disappeared in Chechnya since the beginning of the 1999 armed conflict alone. The vast majority of these people have disappeared after being detained by Russian military forces at the military checkpoints or during the mop up operations. The assessment conducted by the ICRC in 2007 showed that of the families assessed, in 90% of cases the missing were civilians, 6% were military, and 4% police. Although the likelihood of the disappeared persons being alive is remote, their relatives generally cannot accept this- the ICRC’s research assessment of 100 families, shows that the majority of those interviewed believe that their relatives are alive (78%). The absence of an official confirmation of death, as well as the absence of body means that people cannot organize funerals and go through the grieving process; instead they remain in a state of “frozen life”.

This research aims to analyse what would the possibility of humanitarian exhumations create/entail in terms of new legalities and policies in relation to addressing cases of enforced disappearances in regions with unresolved conflict and no transitional justice mechanisms in place such as Chechnya. The main aim of this research is to investigate whether humanitarian exhumations can be an alternative way of solving cases of enforced disappearances in Chechnya and if so, what conditions need to be fulfilled for this to happen?

Mariat is currently working on her dissertation on disappearances and human remains in the Northern and Southern Caucasus. Before joining DCU as a PhD researcher, she worked as a Case and Project Support Officer at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre in London, an organisation which was initially set up to bring cases from Chechnya before the European Court of Human Rights. She has also worked with Front Line Defenders and completed a traineeship in the EU Delegation in Geneva.

Although this presentation will be broadcast on Google Hangouts, in observation of the spirit of the Chatham House Rule to which the series generally adheres, the talk will not be recorded and we courteously request that the other participants refrain from recording and/or distributing it as well.

WiP is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the new office of CRRC at Liziko Kavtaradze St. 1. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.