EU-Russia Summit: Chechnya must be on the agenda

EU-Putin Summit and Chechnya: A Test Of EU Credibility

Amnesty International Urgent Appeal

Brussels (8 November) As European Union leaders prepare to meet the Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit in Brussels on Monday, Amnesty International appeals to the EU to break its silence on Chechnya and bring human rights back to center-stage in its relations with Russia. (Human Rights in Chechnya – A Litmus Test for EU-Russia Relations* – available see end of page).

Amnesty International has launched a worldwide campaign for justice in the Russian Federation exposing the vicious cycle of abuse and impunity which affects the basic rights of ordinary people throughout the country.

“In terms of human rights abuse, Chechnya is the ‘infectious sore’ that colours so much of what is happening in Russia,” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

“Both sides to the conflict commit atrocities, but it is of paramount importance that the EU confronts Russian policy on Chechnya. Monday’s EU-Russia summit is a litmus test, especially as it comes at a time when the EU is discussing how to assert its global role as a community based on values.”

“An EU that shies away from insisting that Russia end the blatant impunity for the most serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, cannot and will not be respected as a credible promoter of reforms aimed at building the rule of law across the Russian Federation,” he said.

In the aftermath of the tragic events concerning the hostage crisis in Moscow, Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the effects of the so-called “anti-terrorist” crackdown, in particular:

  • Pressure on displaced Chechens to return despite serious security risks;
  • Harassment of Chechens living in Moscow following the hostage crisis;
  • Reports of stepped-up military operations in Chechnya;
  • Proposed laws restricting media reporting in Russia;
  • Proposed laws to allow the burial of “unidentified” people considered to be terrorists.

In its appeal released today, Amnesty urges the EU to specifically call on the Russian government to, among other demands:

  • Ensure civilians are protected from the impact of security force operations;
  • Hold comprehensive, impartial investigations into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes, and bring those responsible to justice.
  • Ensure full access to detainees by the International Committee of the Red Cross;
  • Grant access to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and allow unrestricted access to independent media and human rights monitors;
  • Make public the names and whereabouts of all detainees and the charges brought against them;
  • Establish an independent and impartial investigation into the events at the Theatre Centre in Melnikov Street – including the circumstances of all deaths – and publish the findings.

Click here to view the Amnesty International appeal “Human Rights in Chechnya – A Litmus Test for EU-Russia Relations”.

*See also: “Russian Federation: Denial of Justice” – click to view.

EU-Russia: Update 10 November 2002 – click to view.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499
Fax: 32-2-5025686
[email protected]