WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday designated Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, a major violator of human rights.

“This designation is due to Kadyrov’s involvement in gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic,” US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said in a statement issued by his office.

He said the US State Department had “extensive credible information” that Kadyrov was “responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights dating back more than a decade, including torture and extrajudicial killings.”

Ramzan Kadyrov is the son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in May 2004. In February 2007, he replaced Alu Alkhanov as president, shortly after he had turned 30, which is the minimum age for the post.

The official US statement said that Monday’s action also applied to Kadyrov’s spouse, Medni Kadyrova, and his daughters Aishat Kadyrova and Karina. “We will encourage like-minded countries to take similar measures,” Secretary Pompeo said.

He said that the United States and other like-minded nations have “repeatedly raised concerns” about reports of Kadyrov’s violations publicly and privately.

The Trump administration has already imposed economic sanctions on Kadyrov and several of his associates. In 2018, the United States and fifteen other nations formed a fact-finding mission into alleged reports of abuses against human rights defenders, members of the independent media, and other citizens who ran afoul of Kadyrov.

The mission rapporteur found that “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions” had taken place and that “a climate of impunity” surrounded these events.

“We are concerned that Mr. Kadyrov is now using the excuse of the coronavirus pandemic to inflict further human rights abuses on the people of the Chechen Republic,” Secretary Pompeo said.

“Today’s action serves to notify Mr Kadyrov that his involvement in gross violations of human rights has consequences, both for him and his family,” he added.