Punitive House Burning in Chechnya: Is Collective Punishment Outside Armed Conflict Prohibited?

In: Review of Central and East European Law
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  • 1 Birkbeck, School of Law, University of London, United Kingdom

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Collective punishment describes the punishment of a group for an act allegedly committed by one or more of its members and is prohibited in times of armed conflict. It is not explicitly prohibited in situations outside of armed conflict governed by human rights law. This contribution centers on a case study on collective punishment in Chechnya from the two Chechen Wars up until today. Recent years have witnessed the destruction of family homes of alleged insurgents in Chechnya. As it is unclear whether the armed conflict in Chechnya is still ongoing, it is equally unclear whether the law of armed conflict and the explicit prohibition of collective punishment apply to those punitive house burnings. This contribution explores the relation between the law of armed conflict and human rights law regarding collective punishment and concludes that, theoretically, human rights law could encompass such a prohibition.