Russia

Coe Parliamentary Assembly: Evaluation of the prospects for a political solution of the conflict in Chechnya

Format
UN Document
Source
Posted
Originally published


Doc. 9687
28 January 2003
Report
Political Affairs Committee
Rapporteur: Lord Judd, United Kingdom, Socialist Group

Summary:

The economic and human cost of the conflict in the Chechen Republic continues to be intolerably high for the people of the Republic and for the people of Russia. A real lasting solution to the Chechen conflict will have a positive message with immense significance about the potential for building peace through reconciliation across the world. A failure will play into the hands of the dangerous forces of relentless extremism.

The human rights and humanitarian issues are central to the prospects and viability of any settlement if it is not to prove phyrric. The growing recognition of the indispensability of a political solution is important. However, before any referendum takes place conditions must be fulfilled such as proper information and transparency, and constitutional proposals must be the logical outcome of a "realistic" political process.

I. Draft Resolution

1. The Assembly recalls that, as expressed in its Opinion No. 193 (1996) on Russia's request for membership of the Council of Europe, the Chechen conflict cannot be resolved by the use of force and there will be no peace in the region, nor an end to terrorist attacks, without a political solution based on negotiation and on European democratic values. The absence of such a political solution has for too long been a painful and cruel experience for the people of the Chechen Republic and for the people of Russia as a whole. The Council of Europe cannot be what it claims to be while this grave situation continues. We are all diminished.

2. The Assembly notes the statement by the State Duma of the Russian Federation of 24 December 2002, which proposes 2003 as a year of peace and national accord and which calls for the rebuilding of the Chechen Republic and for a comprehensive political settlement. The Assembly also notes the recent statements made by the President of the Russian Federation in favour of moving from military operations to a political process.

3. Strongly deploring the loss of lives in the latest terrorist acts in Moscow and Grozny, the Assembly reiterates that the political process must not be abandoned. It believes that anything other than an unremitting commitment to the rule of law, human rights and humanitarianism which are central to the purpose of the Council of Europe would be both wrong and counterproductive.

4. With regard to the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic, the Assembly remains distressed by the number of killings of politically active individuals, by repeated disappearances and the ineffectiveness of the authorities in investigating them, as well as by the widespread allegations and indications of brutality and violence against the civilian population in the Republic.

5. Therefore, the Assembly calls upon the competent authorities of the Russian Federation and Chechen Republic to ensure:

a. that the combined federal military forces are reduced in number and used only for military operations while leaving law enforcement activities to be undertaken by the law enforcement authorities of the Chechen Republic itself,

b. that Order Nr. 80 is strictly enforced in military operations and that close co-operation with law enforcement authorities of the Chechen Republic is maintained at all times,

c. that more police units of mixed ethnicity are formed for law enforcement activities and that these units receive appropriate anti-terrorist and human rights training,

d. that police and security personnel at all times adhere to codes of conduct as recommended by the Council of Europe,

e. that the independence and effectiveness of the judicial authorities are strengthened; investigations are more vigorously and rigorously pursued; and legal action against suspects is brought to a less delayed and more convincing conclusion,

f. that the reports by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe (CPT) are published and that their recommendations are implemented,

g. that the proliferation of weapons to Chechen fighters is curbed and that armed fighters are encouraged to surrender their weapons voluntarily, for instance by granting pardons in accordance with the Decree of the Head of Administration of the Chechen Republic of 24 October 2002 and in conformity with international humanitarian law.

6. The Assembly notes the intention of the Russian federal and Chechen authorities to hold a referendum on a draft constitution for the Chechen Republic on 23 March 2003. While recognising the role of a referendum in deciding the future democratic structure and constitution of the Republic the Assembly believes that the necessary conditions for holding such a referendum cannot be met by this date. The Assembly, therefore, calls upon the competent authorities to postpone the referendum and to take the essential steps to achieve such conditions, in particular:

a. by ensuring an adequate level of public security for all individuals throughout the Chechen Republic before and during any referendum,

b. by drawing up a transparent and accurate register of voters including all citizens of the Chechen Republic entitled to participate in any referendum and elections, whether they are resident in the Republic or temporarily living in another part of the Russian Federation, and by providing adequate means for their participation in the referendum,

c. by ensuring proper and adequate arrangements for the voting procedure taking into account the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters as produced by the Council of Europe,

d. by respecting freedom of association for political parties as guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in order to allow political parties to participate in forming public opinion through an open democratic debate,

e. by ensuring a fair and balanced composition of the competent election commissions in charge of preparing any referendum and elections,

f. by respecting freedom of political debate through free and independent media as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights,

g. by recognising and supporting the strengthening of a civil society in the Chechen Republic in order to stimulate a constructive political dialogue on the broadest possible basis,

h. by ensuring transparency throughout any referendum process and subsequent elections.

7. The Assembly welcomes the pledge of the President of Ingushetia to allow all internally displaced people from the Chechen Republic to stay in Ingushetia and to recognise the right of those who wish to do so to take up residence in Ingushetia. Therefore, the Assembly calls upon the Russian Federal Migration Service and other competent authorities never to use direct or indirect force or undue pressure of any kind to coerce displaced people to return to the Chechen Republic against their will. The Assembly reaffirms that coercion is a breach of fundamental rights and believes that it will aggravate instability.

8. The Assembly calls upon the competent authorities of the Russian Federation and Chechen Republic together with the European and wider international community urgently to draw up a coordinated collaborative plan of action for reconstruction and humanitarian aid and ensure the fair, proper and transparent use of such aid. The Assembly stresses the importance of free access of humanitarian agencies to the Chechen Republic and calls upon all such relevant agencies to consider what contribution they should make.

9. The Assembly calls on those within the Chechen Republic, who have taken up arms against the authorities of the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic, to lay down their arms and commit themselves to a serious political process; it also calls on them to distance themselves convincingly from terrorist acts and other crimes committed as part of the conflict in the Chechen Republic; it further calls for the immediate release of all kidnapped people. The Assembly reiterates that violence has no part in the cause of a political solution in the interests of all the people of the Chechen Republic.

II. Draft Recommendation

1. The Assembly refers to its Resolution ... concerning the evaluation of the prospects for a political solution of the conflict n the Chechen Republic.

2. The Assembly requests the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to increase its practical assistance to the authorities of the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic in all relevant spheres including the rule of law, human rights, the functioning of democracy, cultural cooperation and humanitarian priorities; it further requests the Committee of Ministers in response to any specific and convincing requests to provide appropriate support for the Consultative Council and other relevant political, social and youth organisations; it also requests the Committee of Ministers together with Mr Sultygov, the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation, to consider ways in which the work of the Council of Europe experts could be still more effective.

3. The Assembly calls upon the Committee of Ministers to take urgent steps to bring this Recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to the attention of the Government of the Russian Federation and to press for expeditious action on all its recommendations.

III. Draft Order

1. The Assembly refers to its Resolution ... and Recommendation ... concerning the evaluation of the prospects for a political solution of the conflict in the Chechen Republic.

2. The Assembly requests the Political Affairs Committee, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human and Rights and the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography together with their rapporteurs on its behalf to maintain their direct concern and active involvement in the issues surrounding the future of the Chechen Republic. In particular, it requests them to consider ways in which they can assist in encouraging an effective European and international humanitarian response and in providing a forum for wider dialogue towards a political solution.

IV. Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur

A. Background

Global Significance

1. Why should a conflict in one small part of Russia so preoccupy us? And why should we in the PACE have felt so frustrated that our governments have not given it the priority we believe it deserves? For the people of the Chechen Republic the long saga has been a cruel disaster. For the people of Russia as a whole, not least the families of servicemen, it has been a painful cancer which could spread. The Council of Europe cannot be what it claims to be while such a grave situation exists within its midst. We are all diminished. But what of the fight for global stability? A real lasting solution to the Chechen conflict will have a positive message with immense significance about the potential for building peace through reconciliation across the world. A failure will play into the hands of the dangerous forces of relentless extremism. As moderates become undermined and isolated, failure could accelerate the advent of a new world wide Dark Age of confrontation between Islamic peoples dominated by extremists and non-Islamic peoples dominated by increasingly intransigent leadership. That our governments must never allow to happen. The Chechen Republic should always be high on their agendas of mutual concern with the Russian government.

A Fundamental Principle

2. The economic and human cost of the conflict in the Chechen Republic continues to be intolerably high for the people of the Republic and for the people of Russia. My conviction remains as strong as ever that the way forward and the solution can only be found by the Chechens and the people of Russia themselves. As deeply anxious and concerned friends, the rest of us in the PACE are there to assist and constructively comment. But a solution to be a solution must be "theirs" not "ours" although, hopefully, it will be one which as fellow members of the PACE we shall all feel able to endorse and to help guarantee.

The Context for a Political Solution

3. The growing recognition of the indispensability of a political solution is important. However, before any referendum takes place constitutional proposals must be the logical outcome of what is agreed as necessary in a "realistic" political process. There must be a widespread sense of ownership. "Realistic" means demonstrably inclusive. What is also inescapable is the need for an overall strategy covering effective but just security, fair administration of justice, human rights, pluralist and free media, reliable information, freedom of movement, freedom of association, the role of NGOs, and the preparation of a convincing franchise. There is also the question of how Chechens, who are not resident within the Chechen Republic, can be meaningfully involved. Context will be crucial to success.

4. Several draft constitutions have been prepared by different groups and the Constitutional Commission of the Chechen Republic has produced a composite text which has been forwarded to the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In his covering letter of 14 January 2003, Mr Kadyrov, Head of Administration of the Chechen Republic, wrote " I ask you to provide assistance in the expertise of the Draft on the issue of its conformity with the democratic values of Europe" (See Appendix I). However, it is far from evident just how many people have been involved in the process, how representative they were and to whom they were accountable. In its first clause the text is explicit. It reads as follows:

"We, the multinational people of the Chechen Republic, recognising our historic responsibility for the establishment of the social order and accord in the Chechen Republic, striving to protect human rights and liberties as the supreme value and strengthen democratic foundations of the society, guided by the generally-recognised principles of equality and self-determination of peoples, based on the responsibility for the past, present and future of our society and nation, affirming our historical unity with Russia and its multinational people, reaffirming the best traditions of the peoples of the Chechen Republic and the entire Russian Federation, honouring the memory of our ancestors, who have given us our love and respect for the Fatherland, our belief in good and fairness, hereby proclaim and adopt this Constitution of the Chechen Republic."

The words "affirming our historical unity with Russia and its multi-national people" are obviously significant.

5. Work has also been undertaken on preparing a register of voters, but, again, the credibility of this register is hard to establish. There remain questions about the number of military entitled to vote and also about the arrangements for Chechen citizens resident outside the Republic to vote. Complaints were made to me that the census on which the register was based was not comprehensive and that, for example, some neighbourhoods had gone unregistered.

6. While there has been limited coverage of the plan for the referendum in the media many people still remain uninformed about the contents of the proposed constitution. Indeed, in the two IDP camps in Ingushetia which we visited my colleagues and I could detect nobody who had either seen a copy of a draft constitution or who had been involved in any kind of discussion about what it contained or entailed.

7. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that the contextual priorities which are essential for a valid referendum have yet to be convincingly addressed.

8. The central element for any successful outcome will necessitate a combination of the cultural and political identity of the Chechen people, including their meaningful self-governance, with the preservation of the integrity and security of the Russian Federation. That is why it is imperative to prepare the ground well with a process which involves a convincing cross-section of the Chechen people and as many of the key players as possible.

The Chechen Fighters

9. I detect at least three elements amongst the fighters in the Chechen Republic. (The reality is certainly even more complex.) There are the extremists, largely indistinguishable in their motivation, if not essentially part of, Al Quaida. There are the criminals and opportunists with a vested interest in the war because of what they can materially gain from it. There are the "political" players who, however misguided or unjustified in having done so, (and that can obviously be argued either way) have taken to arms in desperation to seek a political and cultural identity for the Chechen people whom they perceive as unbearably humiliated and oppressed. The differences between these elements are not always clear-cut. At times there is overlapping. The "political" element must constantly feel the extremist element breathing down its neck and setting an uncompromising pace. A further complication in the situation is that some of the factional fighting may well have more to do with internal Chechen conflicts than with conflicts between the Chechen people and the rest of the Russian Federation. Corruption is rampant and all pervasive. It is not limited to any one side in the conflict.

10. If any settlement and lasting peace are to prevail it is essential to win as many of the fighters as possible back into the political process and to avoid driving them into the arms of the extremists. Those extremists have no interest whatsoever in any objective which most of us would recognise as an acceptable political outcome. If the leadership of the "political" element amongst the fighters speaks out categorically to condemn and dissociate itself from events like those in Moscow in October and Grozny in December (See Appendix II), and if it makes plain its willingness to renounce violence and to join a political process which is recognised by the Council of Europe, that same leadership should feel able to look to the moral protection and encouragement of the Parliamentary Assembly.

11. In this context, I must make reference to Mr Zakayev. I do not know what he has done or not done. I am not legally qualified to pronounce on whether he is or is not covered by any amnesty. What I can say is that, of those associated with the Chechen fighters with whom I have met and spoken, it is with him that I have been able to have some of the most intelligent discussions about the global realities as they affect the people of the Chechen Republic and about the need for a political settlement. His removal at this stage from even tentative steps towards engagement in a political settlement does not seem to me self-evidently to help.

12. My argument about the importance of striving to win the "political" element of the fighters back into a political process is, I believe, strengthened by experience in the Middle East and Ireland. Of course, the situation in the Chechen Republic is different from that in both places, but there are lessons from which to learn. In Ireland, whatever the setbacks, it has been recognised that the peace net has to be cast wide. In the Middle East it has never, in my view, yet been cast wide enough.

Recent terrorist action

13. Nothing can justify either the cold blooded taking of innocent hostages in the Moscow theatre last October or the indiscriminate and ruthless attack on the offices of the administration of the Chechen Republic in Grozny in December. Both events were a grave violation of everything for which the Council of Europe stands. They must be unreservedly condemned. All those responsible should be brought to justice. Our thoughts and sympathies will continue to be with the victims, their families and friends.

14. It seems clear that those who cynically planned these atrocities, whoever they are, have no interest in a political process towards a peaceful, viable and enduring solution to the conflict. It is difficult to believe that both events were not directly in response to the initiatives which were seen to be developing towards such a political process. It is therefore essential that the PACE does everything possible to support the President, government and all those with relevant responsibilities in Russia in refusing to be diverted from their expressed commitment to a political solution. This commitment was of course underlined by the President himself in his significant meeting with the President and Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly on 27 November 2002. It is precisely at a time of such calculated provocation that the need to demonstrate a transparent commitment to the values of the Council of Europe becomes more important than ever. Any temptation to take over-simplified, indiscriminate and disproportionate retaliatory action would be wrong and would play straight into the hands of the manipulating extremists. The objective of the extremists is to destroy the credibility of the language of human rights, the rule of law, justice, democratically accountable government and the rest. They must be denied the fulfilment of that objective. There really is a battle for hearts and minds!

The Relationship of Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues to a Political Solution

15. If hearts and minds are to be won, and if a sufficiently sound basis is to be established for a political settlement, the evenhandedness of the Russian administration is a critical factor. The human rights and humanitarian issues are central to the prospects and viability of any settlement if it is not to prove phyrric. They are not separate issues. That is why the stand of the PACE and the recommendations repeatedly endorsed by the Assembly have been and remain as valid as ever.

16. The abuse of human rights clearly remains widespread and disturbing. Reports of disappearances and allegations of unlawful action, abuse and killing by disguised military personnel are too numerous and well documented by organisations like Memorial to be dismissed. It is difficult to assess how far such action is part of a covert security policy or how far it is undertaken by personnel on their own initiative. What is beyond doubt is that intimidation remains real. The rate and scope both of the investigations and also of the legal action taken against those identified as suspects is still totally inadequate (See Appendix III). My colleague, Rudolph Bindig will undoubtedly have more to say on this.

Economic and Social Reconstruction

17. Political stability is inevitably related to economic and social stability. The economy of the Chechen Republic is shattered. The humanitarian condition of people in the Republic and of the displaced remains grim. Apart from what decency demands, in their preoccupation with the stand against international terrorism the governments of Europe and of the international community would be unwise to ignore the urgent part they must play, together with the Russian government, in rebuilding the Chechen Republic. On this my colleague Tadeusz Iwinski will certainly have more to say.

B. Visit to Moscow, Grozny and Nazran from 20 to 24 January 2002

18. As agreed by the respective committees, I participated in a mission to Moscow, Grozny and Nazran (Ingushetia) from 20 to 24 January 2003 (See Appendix IV) as Rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee on the conflict in the Chechen Republic and was accompanied by my colleagues Rudolf Bindig as Rapporteur responsible for preparing a draft opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and by Tadeusz Iwinski as Rapporteur responsible for preparing a draft opinion of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography. The questions in my memorandum discussed at the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee in Paris on 15 January 2003 (See Appendix V) were pursued with those I met.

19. I must put on record my appreciation of the tireless hard work by our colleague, Leonid Slutsky, in endeavouring to ensure that the mission was able to do all it wanted to do. He generously accompanied us throughout our visit. The Secretariat of the Russian State Duma also made an invaluable contribution. Special thanks are due to Rüdiger Dossow who was the only member of the Parliamentary Assembly's Secretariat allocated to travel with the mission. In a demanding schedule he had to meet all the needs of three rapporteurs and attend to all the administrative demands that inevitably arose. His professionalism, patience and cheerfulness are something special. On the last day we were joined in Moscow by Angus MacDonald of the Parliamentary Assembly's Press Department, who made a first class job of coordinating media relations. Denise McDonnell who provided support in Strasbourg and who has worked over the weekend until very late on Sunday evening to help prepare this report has my unstinted admiration and gratitude

APPENDIX I

Unofficial translation

Head of the Administration of the Chechen Republic

Mr Bruno HALLER

Secretary General

of the Parliamentary Assembly

of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg

14 January 2003

Dear Secretary General!

I am forwarding to you the Draft Constitution of the Chechen Republic proposed by the initiative group to the referendum which will take place in March 2003! This Draft of the basic law is a result of collective work of a wide range of experts, public figures and the Constitutional Commission of the Chechen Republic.

I ask you to provide assistance in the expertise of the Draft on the issue of its conformity with the democratic values of Europe.

Please accept, Mr Secretary General, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Head of the Administration of the Chechen Republic

A. Kadyrov

Appendix: Draft of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic

APPENDIX II

Unofficial translation

Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Ch. R. I.

Akhmed Zakayev

N/Ref.: 42

To the Special Rapporteur on Chechnya,

Chairman of the Duma-PACE joint working group

Lord Frank Judd

24th October 2002

Dear Lord Judd,

I would like to confirm in writing the official view of the leadership of the Ch. R. I., as expressed to you during yesterday morning's meeting in the UK Parliament.

The Chechen leadership, under President A. Maskhadov, utterly condemns any action targeted against civilians. We do not accept terrorist methods as the way to solve any problems whatsoever.

As for yesterday's hostage-taking in one of Moscow's theatres by a group of armed people, presumed to be Chechens, we confirm that none of our official institutions are in any way involved with this action.

We urge both sides, both the armed people in the theatre and the Russian leadership, to find a way out of this grave situation avoiding bloodshed.

(signature)
A. Zakayev
Vice-Prime Minister of the Ch. R. I.,
Special Representative of the President of the Ch. R. I. for negotiations

APPENDIX III

Information on criminal cases instigated by the prosecutor's office concerning crimes committed against the civilian population in the Chechen Republic

(during the period from 1 January 2002 to 1 January 2003)

provided by the Secretariat of the Russian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly

1. Number of cases instigated by

  • military prosecutors: 44
  • Number of investigations finalized: 33
  • Number of investigations closed: 15
  • Number of investigations suspended: 4
  • Number of cases referred to military courts: 18

Since the beginning of the counter-terrorist operation, military prosecutors instigated 162 cases, 97 of which were closed and 57 referred to military courts. 46 servicemen (6 officers out of them) were indicted. During 2002, 23 servicemen were indicted (4 officers out of them).

During the whole period of the counter-terrorist operation, military prosecutors investigated 16 cases on missing persons. 1154 cases were instigated on kidnapped and missing persons (1669 people). 674 investigations were opened.

A criminal case was instigated on 26.06.02 by the Shali prosecutor's office concerning the disappearance of Mr. Imakayev. It was established that on 2 June 2002 an unidentified armed group of people in camouflage arrived on armored vehicles at Novy Atagi of the Shali district, detained Mr Imakayev and left in unidentified direction. The case was referred to the military prosecutor's office and is still under investigation.

2. During 2002, the prosecutor's office of the Chechen Republic on the crimes committed by members of police and special forces against the civilian population:

  • Instigated: 77 cases
  • Referred to court: 7 cases
  • Suspended: 37 cases
  • Referred to military prosecutor's office: 20 cases
  • Number of cases under investigation: 12 cases
  • Number of cases closed: 1

3. During 2002, the prosecutor's office of the Chechen Republic on the crimes committed by members of illegal armed formations:

Instigated: 311 cases

Including

  • on crimes against law-enforcement officers: 120 cases
  • on crimes against heads of administrations: 81 cases
  • on crimes against the clergy: 12 cases
  • Number of cases referred to court: 29
  • Number of cases suspended: 213
  • Number of cases under investigation: 69

4. Current results of the investigations concerning the alleged massacres of civilians:

1) On 3 May 2000, the criminal case (№ 12038) was instigated on the fact of the discovery of corpses of civilians in Novy Katayama of the Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny. 28 witnesses were interrogated. On 10 November 2002, the preliminary investigation was suspended because the persons who had committed the crime were not identified. At present, the investigation of the case was resumed and is under investigation.

2) On 5 March 2000, the criminal case (№ 12011) was instigated on the fact of the execution (shooting) of civilians in Novy Aldy in Grozny. More than 100 witnesses were interrogated. Medical expertise was carried out. On 15 April 2002, the preliminary investigation was suspended because the persons who had committed the crime were not identified. At present the investigation of the case was resumed and is under investigation.

3) In May-June 2002, 14 criminal cases were instigated by the Shali prosecutor's office on the fact of the appeals of civilians about the disappearance of people as a result of a special operation. Later, one criminal case (№ 59113) was opened and referred to the military prosecutor's office.

APPENDIX IV

Programme of the visit of the Rapporteurs to Moscow, Grozny and Nazran (20-24 January 2003)

19 January, Sunday: Arrival in Moscow

20 January, Monday:

Meeting with the Deputy Minister of the Interior and the Acting Head of the Federal Migration Service of the Ministry of the Interior

Meeting with the Prosecutor General and the Military Prosecutor

Meeting with the First Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service

Meeting with the Federal Minister for Reconstruction of the Chechen Republic

Meeting with the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in Chechnya and members of Chechen Consultative Council

21 January, Tuesday:

Meeting with the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Moscow and European Ambassadors

Meeting with the Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation

Meeting with Members of the Russian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly

Meeting with members of the Chechen Youth Association

Meeting with representatives of the NGOs Human Rights Watch, Memorial and Mothers of Chechnya for Peace

Departure from Moscow to Mineralniye Vody

Meeting with the Head of Administration and the Chairman of the Government of the Chechen Republic

22 January, Wednesday: Departure to Grozny (Chechen Republic)

Meeting with the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in Chechnya and representatives of local administrations

Visit to School No. 4 and Hospital No. 1

Visit to a home for returned internally displaced persons

Meeting with the Commander of the Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior in Grozny

23 January, Thursday: Transfer from Grozny to Nazran (Ingushetia)

Meeting with the President of Ingushetia

Visit to two IDP camps

Meeting with UNHCR representatives in Ingushetia

Departure from Nazran to Moscow

Press interviews

24 January, Friday:

Meeting with Professor Ruslan Khasbulatov

Press conference at Interfax

Departure from Moscow

APPENDIX V

Extract of the Memorandum presented to the Political Affairs Committee on 15 January 2003

1. With Reference to a Political Solution and Democratic Stability

a. How is the issue of reconciling the demand by the Chechen people for cultural and political identity and meaningful self-governance with the preservation of the integrity and security of the Russian Federation being approached?

b. What is the state of the political dialogue? Who is involved? How broadly based is it? Where does it take place?

c. What is the current role of the Public Consultative Council established under the aegis of the Joint Working Group of the PACE and the Russian State Duma? How representative and effective is it? What has happened about the financial support for the Public Consultative Council which the PACE requested the Committee of Ministers to provide? Is the European Commission providing support?

d. How many proposed draft constitutions are in circulation? What do they contain? By whom were they drafted and on what basis of preparatory consultation? Is there an official governmental draft text already in preparation? If so, when will it be available to the public? Will it be discussed with the Council of Europe?

e. How far advanced are any plans and arrangements for a referendum? What will be the franchise? What will be the position of Chechens not currently residing within the Republic? How many Chechen people resident in the Chechen Republic have been registered and have received identity cards or passports by the end of 2002? How many Chechens living outside the Republic have been registered and have received identity cards or passports by the end of 2002?

f. Is the work of the Political Affairs Committee of the PACE on autonomous regions of Europe of relevance?

g. Is the report prepared by the Council of Europe on a Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters to be implemented?

h. What is the state of the media in the Chechen Republic? How many media outlets are there? How many are independent of government? How is the media financed?

i. What is the availability of reliable public information?

j. What progress is there to freedom of movement in the Chechen Republic?

k. Is there freedom of association in the Chechen Republic? How many political parties are there? How freely do they operate? (See Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights)

l. What currently is the part played by genuinely independent NGOs in the Chechen Republic? How many are there?

m. How can the work of the Council of Europe on programmes and guidelines concerning education for democracy be of use?

n. IN GENERAL, HOW CAN THE PACE AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE AS A WHOLE BE OF ASSISTANCE?

2. With Reference to Public Security and Human Rights

a. How many cases of missing people have so far been brought to the attention of the law enforcement authorities? How many of them have been processed? In how many cases has the fate of missing people been established?

b. How effective are now the complaints procedures for registering and dealing with reports of missing people and allegations of abuses of human rights? How can they be strengthened? What is currently the role of the office of the Special Representative, Mr Sultygov, and the Council of Europe "experts"? How could this be strengthened? How effective are they able to be? Could there be a role for the Public Consultative Council established under the aegis of the PACE?

c. How many criminal prosecutors have been allocated to the Chechen Republic and how many criminal cases have been dealt with by ordinary criminal courts in 2002? How many criminal investigations are being currently pursued by military prosecutors and how many have led to indictments before military or criminal courts in 2002?

d. How confidently independent is the justice system?

e. Should military prosecutions be transferred to criminal prosecutions by the ordinary courts? If so, how?

f. How can reasonable time scales for the length of proceedings and the possibility of review by superior courts be ensured? What has been the average length of criminal investigations and criminal court proceedings in the Chechen Republic in 2002?

g. How and how far are penal sanctions against criminal behaviour enforced?

h. What is being done to ensure openness of the work by prosecutors and the courts so that justice can publicly be seen to be done?

i. What further assistance in the development of the judicial system could the Council of Europe offer?

3. With Reference to the Activity of the Military and Security Forces within the Chechen Republic

a. What progress has there been in the investigations concerning the alleged killings of civilians in Staropromyslovski in January 2000, Aldi in February 2000 and in Mesker-Yourt in late May 2002?

b. What progress has been made in the investigation concerning the disappearance of Mr Said-Magoved Imakayev from Novye Atagy on 2 June 2002?

c. What were the circumstances surrounding the trial and its outcome of Colonel Yuri Budanov charged with the rape and murder of a young Chechen girl?

d. How many weapons are estimated to be in the possession of Chechen fighters at the end of 2002? What measures have been taken in 2002 against the proliferation of new weapons to Chechen fighters? What measures have been taken in 2002 in order to encourage the voluntary surrender of the existing weapons?

e. How many policemen now serve in units of mixed ethnicity in the Chechen Republic? How many policemen have so far received anti-terrorist training? How many policemen have so far received human rights training?

f. Has a code of conduct for the police in the Chechen Republic been drawn up and, if not, could the Council of Europe assist in this process?

g. In how many cases have military forces pursued law enforcement activities in 2002? In how many cases have regular law enforcement authorities been involved in 2002?

h. What is the division of responsibility between military forces and civilian law enforcement authorities for law enforcement activities?

i. Have complaints, investigation and control mechanisms been established for abuses by security forces? If so, in how many cases have they been used in 2002? If not, when will they be established?

j. How many violations of Order No. 80 on military search operations have occurred in 2002? What measures have been taken or will be taken in order to ensure compliance with Order No. 80?

k. When will the report of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) be published? What measures have been taken by the federal and regional authorities in 2002 as a consequence of the latest CPT report in order to prevent cases of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment?

4. With Reference to the Humanitarian Situation in the Chechen Republic

a. How many family dwellings are fully habitable and supported with essential infrastructure?

b. How many schools and hospitals are fully operational? Is there adequate educational equipment? How many teachers are there? How many school children and students are there? What proportion of eligible children and young people are at school? How many doctors are there? How many qualified nurses are there? How many in-patients are there? How many outpatients are there? How many people do not have access to medical care? What is the availability of medicines and surgery? Are teachers and medical staff being paid?

c. What is the state of nutrition of the population as a whole and, in particular, of the elderly and young?

d. What is the estimated percentage of the population of working age receiving salaries from employment? How is this divided between different sectors of the economy? What percentage of the population of working age is without employment?

e. How far is the Republic agriculturally self-sufficient? On what incoming food is it dependent?

f. What, if any, is the current economic investment from outside in the Republic? Where and in what sectors is this taking place?

g. How are welfare payments made to the population? How many people receive these? What percentage of the population, eligible by age, physical condition and unemployment, receive these?

h. How is humanitarian aid distributed to the population? How is fairness in distribution achieved? How is misappropriation dealt with and prevented?

i. Which humanitarian agencies are operating within the Republic and which are operating with the displaced still outside the Republic?

j. What is the condition of the displaced outside the Republic in Ingushetia and elsewhere?

k. How can access by humanitarian agencies be improved?

l. What is now the position of returnees in the Republic? Are they receiving assistance with the rebuilding of their homes?

m. Is the return of displaced people now genuinely voluntary?

5. Concerning the Joint Working Group of the PACE and the Duma

Does the JWG still have a valid role to play? Is its membership the right membership? Has the time come to replace it with some other arrangement? If so, what would make sense?

Reporting Committee : Political Affairs Committee
Reference to Committee : Res. 1227 (2000), Res. 1240 (2001), Res. 1270 (2002)

- Draft Resolution adopted by the Committee on 28 January 2003 with 4 abstentions

- Draft Recommendation adopted by the Committee on 28 January 2003 with 4 votes against and 3 abstentions

- Draft Order adopted by the Committee on 28 January 2003 with 3 abstentions

Members of the Committee : Jakic (Chairman), Rogozin (Vice-Chairman), Feric-Vac (Vice-Chairperson), Spindelegger (Vice-Chairman), Aguiar, Aliyev (alternate: Seyidov), de Aristegi, Ates,Atkinson, Azzolini, Berceanu, Beres, Bianco, Blaauw, Blankenborg (alternate: Kvakkestad), Cekuolis, Clerfayt, Davern, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Druviete, Durrieu, Eörsi, Frey, Glesener, Goulet (alternate: Rochebloine), Gross, Hedrich, Henry, Hörster, Hovhannisyan, Iwinski, Judd, Karpov, Kautto, Kirilov, Klich (alternate: Markowski), Koçi, Kostenko, van der Linden, Lloyd, Loutfi, Magnusson, Margelov (alternate: Popov), Martinez-Casan, Medeiros Ferreira, Mercan, Mignon, Muratovic, Naudi Mora, Neguta, Nemcova, Nemeth (alternate: Braun), Oliynyk, Ouzky, Pangalos, Petrova-Mitevska, Pourgourides, Prentice, Prisacaru, de Puig (alternate: Puche), Ragnarsdottir, Ranieri (alternate: de Zulueta), Roth, Severin, Severinsen, Tekelioglu, Tritz, Vakilov (alternate: Mollazade), Vella, Volpinari, Voog, Voulgarakis, Westerberg, Wielowieyski, Wohlwend, Wurm, Yarygina, Zacchera, Zhvania, Ziuganov (alternate: Slutsky).

N.B. : The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics

Secretariat of the Committee : Mr Perin, Mr Chevtchenko, Mr Dossow, Mrs Entzminger, Ms Alleon

* * *


Evaluation of the prospects for a political solution of the conflict in Chechnya

Doc. 9688
28 January 2003

Opinion
Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography
Rapporteur: Mr Tadeusz Iwinski, Poland, Socialist Group

I. Conclusions of the Committee

1. Nearly all the recommendations to the Russian and Chechen authorities contained in the previous opinion of the Committee on the conflict in the Chechen Republic (Doc. 9330) remain valid. Regrettably, there has been no significant improvement in security and humanitarian situation which would allow for mass returns of internally displaced persons from Chechnya. Therefore, the following recommendations have to be maintained:

i. refrain from any kind of pressure on IDPs to force them to return to Chechnya;

ii. create conditions for voluntary mass returns in security and dignity, and in particular increase accountability of the federal armed forces, step up investigations into the cases of human rights violations and increase civilian control over military actions.

iii. maintain the remaining tent camps and relief aid in Ingushetia as long as the conditions for mass returns are not met;

iv. always provide an alternative accommodation outside Chechnya in case if a tent camp is closed until the conditions for mass returns are not accomplished;

v. remove still existing bureaucratic obstacles and simplify regulations concerning access and actions of the humanitarian agencies in the Chechen Republic.

2. The following recommendations to the international community should also be reiterated:

i. increase the international presence in Chechnya

ii. step up assistance to IDPs in the Chechen Republic and Ingushetia

iii. step up financial aid

iv. promote the development of the civil society in Chechnya and cooperation with local NGOs.

II. Amendments on behalf of the Committee

Amendment 1

In the draft resolution, insert a new sub-paragraph 6.c which would read as follows:

"examine the possible ways for practical arrangements which would enable the Chechen internally displaced persons (IDPs) from neighbouring republics, in particular from Ingushetia, to exercise their right,"

Amendment 2

In the draft resolution, add in the end of paragraph 8, the following sentence:

"At the same time, the Assembly calls upon the Russian authorities to simplify the regulations governing their access and remove any bureaucratic obstacles which may jeopardise their action."

III. Explanatory memorandum by Mr Iwiński

1. The present opinion is based on the information gathered on a number of sources including updated information received from relevant governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations as well as international governmental and non-governmental organizations and associations. Moreover, the Rapporteur used the findings of the visit to Chechnya and Ingushetia which he carried out together with the Rapporteurs of the Political Affairs Committee, Lord Judd, and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Mr Bindig (See Programme for the visit, appendix).

2. Three years after the outbreak of the second armed conflict in Chechnya, the humanitarian situation continues to be difficult in the North Caucasus. As on 31 December 2002, there were 102 833 internally displaced persons from Chechnya in Ingushetia. Out of this figure, 19 374 lived in tented camps, 27 889 in spontaneous settlements and 55 570 with host families[1]. During the visit, the President of Ingushetia, Mr Murat Zyazikov, who accompanied the delegation, advanced different figures: according to his information there are at present 64 300 Chechen refugees in Ingushetia (they were as many as 148 600 in May 2002 but the majority has returned to Chechnya). Out of this figure 26 000 stay with host families, 21 000 in rented flats, and 17 000 in tented camps. The total population of Ingushetia amounts to 480 000, and the Chechen refugees are not the only displaced people staying in the republic: for example there are 20 000 refugees from Ossetia. These figures illustrate the burden put on the local economy.

3. Regrettably, the humanitarian situation of the Chechen displaced persons in Ingushetia has not improved since the last report of the Committee was presented to the Assembly in January 2002[2]. The living conditions in the camps remain very difficult, in particular during the winter months. Although food is distributed regularly, but its quality leaves much to be desired, which is particularly dramatic in the case of children who get neither milk nor vegetables. Similarly, there is sometimes lack of medicines, in particular antibiotics. To the credit of the Ingush authorities it has to be stressed that all refugee children attend schools, either schools set up by the camps, or local schools.

4. The situation in the spontaneous settlements is even more dramatic. Inadequate sanitation, lack of electricity and gas which means no proper heating, and disastrous living conditions prevail in ad hoc settlements often made of clay and sticks and sheltering most vulnerable categories of IDPs.

5. According to the NGOs active in the field, which is also admitted by the authorities, the management of the relief aid, including the distribution of the humanitarian assistance, is not fully satisfactory, and leaves room for improvement.

6. Having said that, the Rapporteur believes that the humanitarian situation in Ingushetia, although very difficult, remains under control, and as long as the conditions for mass returns in security are not fully accomplished, any pressure on IDPs in order to make them go back to Chechnya should be excluded.

7. According to Mr Stanislav Ilyasov, RF Minister for Co-ordination of the Social and Economic Development of Chechnya, during the past two years and a half, more than 300 000 inhabitants have returned to Chechnya (80 000 between May and November 2002 only, according to the Acting Head of the Federal Migration Service of the Ministry of Interior, Mr Igor Yunash).

8. The Russian population is rather reluctant to come back to Chechnya. They are 10 000 living in the republic now. The previous census carried out in 1989 showed 400 000 Russians among 1,3 million population of Chechnya. According to the census carried out in 2002, the Republic's population amounts to 1 088 000 people. The population growth is apparently also partly explained by a high birth rate. An average number of children in one family is five.

9. The exact number of population constitutes a crucial issue in the Republic in view of the forthcoming referendum. According to the authorities, a number of people entitled to vote (excluding a high number of children) amounts to 528 000. Furthermore, it is important to allow those staying temporarily outside the republic (for example Chechen refugees Ingushetia) to vote. The delegation was informed by Mr Genadiy Seleznov, Speaker of the Duma, that the Parliament wishes to propose to the Government to assure special financing which would allow for the transfer for the Chechen citizens from outside Chechnya to come to the republic to exercise their voting rights.

10. According to the public statement by Amnat Batyzheva in mid-December 2002, deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya, in the end of 2002, as many as 459 schools with 198 886 pupils were operational in Chechnya[3]. Out of this figure, 55 schools are located in Grozny. Four special boarding schools for orphans operate in the Republic. 349 children are placed in them. There are also 37 kindergartens for 3 100 children. Lack of solid fuel, school furniture and textbooks are the main difficulties.

11. According to Batysheva, 120 000 new jobs have been created and hospitals, schools, transport and agriculture had been put in order. Slave trade and bandit incursions to neighbouring regions have stopped. The general economic situation has been continuously progressing.

12. The distribution of emergency relief aid including food and other materials reaches over 500 000 on the territory of the Chechen Republic.

13. The distribution of emergency shelter materials to private households in the framework of the emergency shelter programme implemented in Chechnya by People in Need Foundation (PINF) and UNHCR since mid 2000 and aimed at providing basic roofing materials to beneficiaries in private sector, on one-dry-room basis has been continued throughout 2002.

14. According to the Chechen government, six temporary settlement centres capable of accommodating about 6000 refugees returning from Ingushetia have been recently opened. The delegation visited one of them in Staropromyslovska area in Grozny. Each family has got for its disposal one room. Furthermore, there are 15 collective centres in Chechnya accommodating IDPs.

15. According to the Mayor of Grozny, Mr Oleg Zhidkov, who accompanied the delegation, the population of Grozny amounts to 207 000 people. The main task faced today is the reconstruction of housing. The authorities estimate that it will take approximately 5 -6 years and will cost 20 billion roubles (which means 100 million USD per year). The second major challenge is the creation of new jobs. By the end of 2003, the authorities intend to create over 100 000 new posts.

16. The economic activities have been developing. The republic produces 5000 tons of oil daily. The production of cereals is sufficient for the needs of the population, the number of cattle amounts to 220 000. Local transport id functioning, there is also a train to Moscow once a week. The banks are operating. Two newspapers are published at the level of the republic and 14 at the level of the region (there are 20 regions). There are 9 hospitals in Grozny; the delegation visited one of them. There are also 3 universities.

17. Despite all these efforts and achievement, the living conditions in the Republic, and in particular in Grozny, are dramatic. The centre of the city is almost totally destroyed. The lack of shelter, sanitation, heating, scarcity of relief aid mark every day life of those who have returned. The local authorities regret that nearly all international assistance is directed to Ingushetia whereas the needs of the displaced population in Chechnya itself are also very big. However, your Rapporteur after having spoken to the refugees in Ingushetia is convinced that the main obstacle to the mass returns are not bad economic conditions, but the precarious security situation.

18. There is a serious discrepancy in opinions concerning the security situation in Chechnya between the Russian and Chechen authorities on one hand, and the representatives of the international community present in the region on the other.

19. The latter claim that the overall security situation in Chechnya has not changed much, and in particular it has not improved to the degree which would allow for mass returns of the displaced population. It is marked by ambush attacks, explosions, local fighting and mopping up operations carried out by the federal troops. Mine explosions, murders, disappearances and abductions continue. The bomb attack on the administration building in Grozny on 27 December 2002, in which over 70 people were killed and over 300 wounded, illustrates the everyday threats to the civilians' lives in the Republic.

20. The lack of accountability of the perpetrators of the human rights abuses, and unsatisfactory progress in the investigations add up to the climate of insecurity. In this respect, the recent decision by the European Court on Human Rights on the admissibility of six complaints against Russia concerning the human rights abuses in Chechnya in 1999-2000 may mark a certain progress.

21. The European Commission and the international community have repeatedly asked the authorities not to close any camp in Ingushetia, until the security situation in Chechnya allows for safe return. Forcing refugees to go back to Chechnya would be against international humanitarian law.

22. The CE supports unconditionally the principles on voluntary IDP return. The Rapporteur expresses his satisfaction at the fact that the President of Ingushetia, Mr Murat Zyazikov, when accompanying the delegation, on several occasions stated publicly, also in front of the those directly concerned, that the refugees can stay in Ingushetia as long as they wish to do so.

23. In this context, the closure of the tent camp "Imam" in Ingushetia, near the village of Aki-Yurt which was housing around 1500 IDPs from Chechnya completed on 2 December 2002, alerted the international community. Some public statements by Russian officials have suggested that the process would continue and five other big camps in Ingushetia would be closed down in the near future as well. Although the threat of further camps being closed did not materialize, still, some movements of IDPs have been noted, predominantly from the big camps. Moreover, according to the reports by the Memoral, the NGOs are prevented from repairing the tents.

24. Certain NGOs (for example Memoral) have accused the authorities of exercising psychological and economic pressure on people who felt they had no other choice than to return, although they did not wish to do so.

25. On 10 December Frederic Lyons, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in the Russian Federation, stated in an interview with Reuters that IDPs in Aki-Yurt had been "basically coerced into returning". Lyons added that "conditions were made more difficult and a level of psychological pressure was put on them".

26. The majority of IDPs from "Imam" have moved to Chechnya. They were encouraged to find and rent living space and afterwards register the contracts with the Federal Migration Service (FMS) that would subsequently reimburse their share of the rents. As many as 628 IDPs from Aki-Yurt had filled in DRC form to apply for food assistance in Chechnya instead of Ingushetia.

27. Further 127 people moved into Aki Yurt village to host families, 371 moved into temporary settlements in Aki Yurt surroundings (generally in disastrous conditions), and around 60 IDPs moved to other places in Ingushetia.

28. It is clear that the humanitarian situation both in Chechnya, and in the neighbouring republics, in particular in Ingushetia will remain precarious still for a long time. IDPs will continue to rely on outside support, and therefore it is essential that the international community support humanitarian operations and does not decrease its contributions.

29. On the other hand, it is crucial that the Russian authorities in their policies do not use IDPs as an instrument in the political considerations, and attach prior importance to the security of potential returnees.

APPENDIX

19 January, Sunday: Arrival in Moscow

20 January, Monday:

Meeting with the Deputy Minister of the Interior and the Acting Head of the Federal Migration Service of the Ministry of the Interior

Meeting with the Prosecutor General and the Military Prosecutor

Meeting with the First Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service

Meeting with the Federal Minister for Reconstruction of the Chechen Republic

Meeting with the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in Chechnya and members of Chechen Consultative Council

21 January, Tuesday:

Meeting with the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Moscow and European Ambassadors

Meeting with the Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation

Meeting with Members of the Russian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly

Meeting with members of the Chechen Youth Association

Meeting with representatives of the NGOs Human Rights Watch, Memorial and Mothers of Chechnya for Peace

Departure from Moscow to Mineralniye Vody

Meeting with the Head of Administration and the Chairman of the Government of the Chechen Republic

22 January, Wednesday: Departure to Grozny (Chechen Republic)

Meeting with the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in Chechnya and representatives of local administrations

Visit to School No. 4 and Hospital No. 1

Visit to a home for returned internally displaced persons

Meeting with the Commander of the Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior in Grozny

23 January, Thursday: Transfer from Grozny to Nazran (Ingushetia)

Meeting with the President of Ingushetia

Visit to two IDP camps

Meeting with UNHCR representatives in Ingushetia

Departure from Nazran to Moscow

Press interviews

24 January, Friday

Meeting with Professor Ruslan Khasbulatov
Press conference at Interfax
Departure from Moscow

Reporting Committee:Political Affairs Committee (Doc. 9687).

Committee for opinion: Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

Reference to Committee:standing mandate.

Opinion approved by the Committee on 28 January 2003.

Secretaries to the Committee: Mr Lervik, Mrs Nachilo and Mrs Sirtori-Milner.

[1] Figures come from the registration carried out by the Danish Refugee Council.

[2]See Doc 9330.

[3] The delegation was told that in January 2003, the number of pupils was 217 000.

* * *

Evaluation of the prospects for a political solution of the conflict in the Chechen Republic

Doc. 9688
28 January 2003

Opinion[1]
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Rapporteur: Mr Rudolf Bindig, Germany, Socialist Group

I. Conclusions of the Committee

1. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights fully supports the Political Affairs Committee in its analysis of the situation and its findings. In particular, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights aligns itself with the Political Affairs Committee in its call to postpone the referendum on the draft constitution of the Chechen Republic. The Committee agrees that the necessary conditions for the holding of such a referendum are not and cannot be met by 23 March 2003, in view of the rising insecurity in the Republic. There is no possibility for a free and democratic vote when even the 80.000 law enforcement-troops stationed in the Republic (at a ratio of 1 soldier to six adult civilians), the presence of multiple barricaded checkpoints (I counted 28 on a 40 km stretch of road from Grozny to the Ingush border) and severe restrictions on the freedom of movement and assembly do not guarantee the safety of civilians in the Chechen Republic.

2. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights would like to draw particular attention to the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic, which remains dismal. Civilians are targeted by both sides to the conflict, in violation of international humanitarian law. Some Chechen fighters have been perpetrating gruesome terrorist attacks, and routinely kidnap and kill their countrymen involved in the administration of the Republic. Some members of the Russian forces have also been continuing their harassment and brutality against civilians, culminating in illegal arrests, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions. The Russian authorities seem to be unwilling or unable to stop these grave human rights violations from happening. The prosecuting bodies seem equally unwilling or unable (or are being systematically obstructed in their efforts) to find and bring to justice the guilty parties. A climate of impunity thus reigns in the Chechen Republic which makes normal life in the Republic impossible.

Amendments proposed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to:

To the draft resolution:

Amendment A

Add the following new paragraph after paragraph 4:

"The Russian authorities seem unable to stop grave human rights violations in Chechnya. In view of the fact that some investigations of the most high-profile cases of mass killings and disappearances have now been proceeding for more than three years without tangible results, the Assembly can only conclude that the prosecuting bodies are either unwilling or unable to find and bring to justice the guilty parties. The Assembly deplores the climate of impunity which consequently reigns in the Chechen Republic and which makes normal life in the Republic impossible."

Amendment B

In sub-paragraph 5 b, add the following words before "and that":

"Order No 46 is fully respected during operations to check citizen's registration,"

Amendment C

In sub-paragraph 5 d, add at the end:

"and apply all Russian constitutional guarantees to those arrested, wherever they are arrested and detained."

Amendment D

Add the following sub-paragraph after sub-paragraph 5 f:

"that the 1998 Russian Federal Law on the Suppression of Terrorism be amended to reflect the expert recommendations made in Assembly Document No. 9634 in order to achieve the Law's conformity with Council of Europe standards."

Amendment E

Add the following paragraph after paragraph 5:

"The Assembly requests the Russian authorities to provide it with an updated and detailed list of all criminal investigations by military and civilian law enforcement agencies into crimes against the civilian population by servicemen and members of all police and special forces and also into crimes committed by Chechen fighters against the civilian population, the local Chechen administration and the federal forces in the Chechen Republic. In addition to statistical data, this list should contain details of the nature of the crimes committed and the current status of the investigation and/or indictments and convictions."

To the draft recommendation:

Amendment F

Add, after paragraph 2, the following new paragraph:

"The Assembly requests the Committee of Ministers to press for the immediate implementation by the competent authorities of the recent recommendations made by the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights "on certain rights that must be guaranteed during the arrest and detention of persons following "cleansing" operations in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation"."

To the draft order:

Amendment G

Add, after paragraph 2, the following paragraph:

"The Assembly instructs its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to present to it, at its next part-session, a report on the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic. This report should be based on information made available by the competent authorities, international organisations, NGOs and journalists, and should, inter alia, treat individual cases of particular concern."

III. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr Rudolf Bindig, Rapporteur

1. It is becoming a sort of sad duty for me to report, every year, on the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic. Over the years, the political and military situation in the Republic has been evolving; but, unfortunately, the human rights situation has remained the same. The concerns the Assembly has expressed year after year remain, essentially, unaddressed.

2. What are the main human rights concerns of the Assembly? In 2001 and 2002 the Assembly singled out gross human rights abuses on both sides of the conflict, and the lack of effective remedies for the victims which had led to a climate of impunity in the Chechen Republic.

3. Chechen fighters have increasingly been targeting the civilian population in flagrant violation of international law. Some of them have perpetrated two abominable terrorist acts, one in Moscow and one in Grozny. They have also been intimidating, kidnapping and killing persons involved in the administration of the Chechen Republic (and their family members).

4. However, some of the Russian forces have also continued their campaign of intimidation and terror of the civilian population of Chechnya. NGOs continue to report, almost daily, of people "disappearing" in Chechnya after having been arrested (often arbitrarily and illegally). More often than not, their mutilated corpses are found some time later, in mass graves or simply left by the roadside. According to Memorial and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, in the first two weeks of this month alone, 11 men disappeared from one Grozny district, four more were abducted during a raid near the central market, and 10 mutilated corpses were found - whom several witnesses identified as persons who had been abducted by Federal forces three weeks earlier. In addition, three international and one Russian NGO allege that Russian forces were responsible for the unlawful killing of a former pro-Moscow Chechen official, Mrs Umazheva, on 29 November 2002, apparently in retaliation for her public statements against abuses by Russian forces.

5. Russian forces apparently routinely harass, intimidate and beat Chechen civilians. Since journalists and international NGO workers find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to enter Chechnya proper, most of these crimes go unnoticed und unreported on the big stage of world affairs.

6. What is even worse, they also go unpunished. None of the high-profile cases of human rights violations that the Assembly has been following has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion by the Russian authorities. To the unsolved crimes of the alleged massacres of civilians in Alkhan-Yurt (1999), Staropromyslovski (2000) and Aldi (2000), can now be added the one in Mesker-Yurt (late May 2002), as well as the mass-grave containing 51 bodies near Khankala military base (found in 2001). To the unsolved disappearance of the former Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, Mr Alikhodzhiyev, can now be added that of Mr Said Mgoved Imakayev, an applicant to the European Court of Human Rights. Even the seemingly clear-cut case of Colonel Budanov, originally indicted for the rape and murder of a young Chechen girl, did not result in his conviction - although the Prosecutor's Office is currently appealing this verdict.

7. The Russian authorities have provided the Council of Europe with statistical data on criminal cases investigated by the different prosecuting authorities concerning crimes committed against the civilian population in the Chechen Republic (reproduced as Appendix III of the Document tabled by the Political Affairs Committee). In 2002, the military prosecutor's office dealt with 44 cases in all; since 1999, with 162. Only a small fraction of these have led to indictments (46 in over three years!), even less have resulted in convictions. The figures are not much better in the prosecutor's office of the Chechen Republic. Their number pales in relation to the thousands of complaints received by NGOs and by the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation (Mr Sultygov) - whose efficiency is also increasingly cast into doubt by NGOs.

8. Since, in addition, the Russian authorities have never provided an update to the detailed list of the current status of all criminal investigations by military and civilian law enforcement agencies into crimes against the civilian population by servicemen and members of all police and special forces and also into crimes committed by Chechen fighters against the civilian population, the local Chechen administration and the federal forces in the Chechen Republic (as, inter alia, demanded by the Assembly a year ago in Resolution No. 1270 (2002)), it is very difficult for me to judge all the efforts of the prosecuting bodies. However, I was given the same answer by the prosecutors I talked to last week on every case I mentioned, from the mass killing in Alkhan-Yurt in 1999 over the mass grave in Khankala in 2001 to the murder of Mrs Umahzeva just two months ago: "the case is under investigation". After a certain number of years, to be told that the case is still under investigation with no tangible results, leads me to the following conclusion: The prosecuting bodies are either unwilling or unable (or are being systematically obstructed in their efforts) to find and bring to justice the guilty parties. Personally, by now, I suspect that all three factors play a role in the ineffectiveness of the prosecution when the crimes in question are those committed against Chechen civilians.

9. I must thus conclude that a climate of impunity reigns in the Chechen Republic which makes normal life in the Republic impossible. This climate exacerbates the bad security situation in the Republic, where even the 80.000 law enforcement-troops stationed in the Republic (at a ratio of 1 soldier to six adult civilians), the presence of multiple barricaded checkpoints (I counted 28 on a 40 km stretch of road from Grozny to the Ingush border) and severe restrictions on the freedom of movement and assembly do not guarantee the safety of civilians in the Chechen Republic.

Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee
Committee for opinion: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Reference to committee: Res 1227 (2000), Res 1240 (2001), Res 1270 (2002)
Opinion approved by the committee on 28 January 2003
Secretaries to the committee: Ms Coin, Ms Kleinsorge, Mr Ćupina, Mr Milner

[1] See Doc. 9887 tabled by the Political Affairs Committee.