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UN torture investigator to visit Russia, Chechnya

Written by: Staff
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GENEVA, Mar 30 (Reuters) The UN investigator on torture today said that Moscow had agreed to let him visit Russia, including the troubled region of Chechnya -- the first such trip by a UN torture envoy in more than a decade.

Manfred Nowak said the visit was likely to take place in September or October.

''I am very confident that the visit will take place in one of those two months,'' Nowak told a news briefing.

''The concerns are very well-known. Because of the conflict going on, there are very, very serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment,'' he added, declining to provide details.

Russia has some 100,000 troops in Chechnya and says the province is returning to normal and the 11-year war that has killed tens of thousands of Chechens is all but over. Yet clashes erupt daily in the turbulent southern region.

The only UN human rights investigator to gain access to Russia in recent years was the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, who visited in December 2004.

A previous UN rapporteur on torture, Nigel Rodley, last visited Russia in 1994 and applied again in 2000 to specifically investigate alleged abuses in Chechnya, but was never allowed.

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