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Eliza Musaeva

T: +43 1 4277-22345
E: eliza.musaeva@univie.ac.at


"The Influence of Impunity on Torture Victims and their Close Relatives and Friends. A Comparative Analysis of Torture in the Framework of the so-called 'Fight/War Against Terrorism' in the Russian Federation and the USA" 

Impunity has a special and aggravating effect for torture victims. In a climate of impunity, tortured persons, being released from official custody, prison or secret place of detention cannot count on the punishment or other forms of fair retaliation of their torturers and their backers. The impunity of those who committed violence, breaks the sense of reality of the victim, and counteracts his/her rehabilitation of trust and the acquisition of internal rest. The absence of legal/political procedures against the torturers and their backers becomes an additional traumatic factor.

In such situations, a person sometimes expects support and rehabilitation exclusively in the circle of the family and friends. But very often they cannot bear the suffering of the victim, and so they go through psychological breaks as well. To avoid such circumstances and to spare their close relatives and friends the victims keep their pain inside. Therefore, with regard to such victims one can not even speak about post-traumatic stress, because there is not a `post`, but an uninterrupted reaction of uninterrupted stress.

But as shows experience with many torture victims in Chechnya and the surrounding regions in the Russian North Caucasus, many torture victims do not choose to be silent due to above given reasons, but they to remain silent about what happened with them, because of fear for reprisals against themselves or members of their families and/or close friends.

Taking into account that the torture victim is a symbol of social pathology, in the process of his/her rehabilitation from his/her traumatic experience, it is fundamental not to limit the topic of justice only with the circle of those who suffered. Official and public procedures condemning those who organized, and those who executed crimes, are necessary.


Eliza Musaeva was born  in Chechnya (Russian Federation). She studied Geography at the Chechen-Ingush State University and finished her studies with the academic title of a “specialist” (equivalent to a MA). After teaching at a school in Grozny for some years she studied psychology at the Moscow State Pedagogical University and finished it with the academic title of a k.ps.n. (equivalent to a Ph.D.). Between the first and the second Chechen war she was teaching psychology at the Ingush State University and the Moscow Municipal Pedagogical University. At the Chechen Pedagogical College she was teaching until 2004.

In the year 2000 she became head of the Chechnya and Ingushetia offices of the Human Rights Center “Memorial”. This position she held until 2004, when she moved to Vienna to become a human rights consultant for the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), particularly involved in the IHF’s monitoring and advocacy activities regarding the Russian Federation and Central Asia. She worked for the IHF from 2004 to 2008.

Research Interests
Psychology (post-traumatic stress disorder), human rights

Human Rights Center “Memorial”. Head of Ingushetia/Chechnya Offices, 2000-2004
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. Consultant / Researcher, 2004-2008

Austrian Red Cross. Mental health care for asylum seekers in the EU, addressing needs of specificalls vulnerable groups (trauma, separation and special needs), June 2009.
Presentation with the title “Living with Uncertainty - Families with Missing Relatives: The Example of Chechnya”

Musaeva, E. 2009. Life after death. Notes about the search for the reason to survive in Chechnya. Finding the reason to live as a strategy for survival under extreme conditions.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. Personal testimonies by Death Row Inmates and there Families. November 2007
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. February 2007. The decimation of the human rights community in Uzbekistan
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. May 2007.  The flawed amnesty process in Chechnya.

Studies Abroad
February 2008-July 2008, Sakharov fellowship at Davis center, Harvard University
May 2004 – May 2005, Scholarship in Vienna, provided by the Scholars Rescue Foundation of the Institute of International Education (IIE), New York

Awards and Scholarships
January 1999- June 1999, Moscow State Pedagogical University. Department of Psychology. Research Fellowship for habilitation thesis.
August, 2002 Andrei Sakharov Peace Award, Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
February 2008-July 2008, Sakharov fellowship at Davis center, Harvard University
May 2004 – May 2005, Scholarship in Vienna, provided by the Scholars Rescue Foundation of the Institute of International Education (IIE), New York

Courses Taught
1996-2004, Chechen Pedagogical College:
• Social Psychology
• General Psychology
1997- 1998, Ingush State University:
• General Psychology
1999, Moscow Municipal Pedagogical University:
• Social Psychology
April 2003, Open Lecture at Harvard University, “Chechnya: Origins of the conflict and possible solutions”.
April 2003, Testimony at US Congress Hearing on Chechnya. Presentation “Kidnapped and ‘Disappeared’ in Chechnya”
April 2003,  John Hopkins University , “Chechnya: Ways out of Crisis”.
April 2008, Lecture at the Kennan Institute “War on terror and human rights”

Research Centre Human Rights

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