Western Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to explain Australia’s response to the reported violence of gay men in Chechnya.
Senator Smith queried Dr Lachlan Strahan from DFAT during a Senate Estimates hearing in the parliament on Wednesday.
Dr Strahan told the committee the information about the detention and violent torture of the gay and bisexual Chechen men had come from a range of sources, including reputable human rights organisations like Amnesty International.
He said “credible information” indicated “very serious” abuses had occurred in the Russian region and the Australian government had raised the issue with the Russian government on five separate occasions, in both Moscow and Canberra.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had also articulated her view, he added.
“It’s clear to us that there is credible evidence of abuses having taking place,” Dr Strahan said.
“We take note of the fact that President Putin has said to his Human Rights Ombudsman that she should investigate the situation and report back to him.”
Dr Strahan said Australia would await the results of the investigation by Russia’s Ombudsman.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the violence is taking place as recently as this week, even as Human Rights Watch released a report recounting the horrific treatment experienced by the men.