Russia

CoE Parliamentary Assembly: The human rights situation in the Chechen Republic (provisional)

Format
UN Document
Source
Posted
Originally published
ajdoc11.2003 PARTS I+II
Provisional version of the draft report:

Part I: Draft resolution
Part II: Draft recommendation
Part III: Draft order

Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights

Rapporteur: Mr Rudolf Bindig, Germany, Socialist Group

I. Draft resolution

1. The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its previous resolutions and recommendations on the conflict in the Chechen Republic. It makes particular reference to Resolution 1315 (2003) on the evaluation of the prospects for a political solution of the conflict in the Chechen Republic, which remains fully valid.

2. The Assembly reiterates its belief that there cannot be peace without justice in the Chechen Republic. The human rights situation in the Republic is the key to an equitable political solution based on national reconciliation. Without a tangible improvement of the human rights situation, all attempts at pacifying the region are doomed to failure.

3. For nearly a decade now, people in the Chechen Republic have lived in constant fear. Their towns and villages have been reduced to rubble, their fields mined, their friends and relatives murdered, illegally detained, "disappeared", kidnapped, raped, tortured and robbed. The Assembly has consistently condemned the gross human rights abuses, the violations of international humanitarian law, and the war crimes committed in Chechnya by both sides to the conflict. Since the very beginning of the first conflict in Chechnya in 1994, the Assembly has called for those responsible for these acts to be brought to justice - to little avail.

4. The people of the Chechen Republic have a right not just to our pity, but also to our protection. So far, everyone involved - the Russian government, administration and judicial system, the different Chechen regimes - has failed dismally to provide such protection from human rights abuses. International organisations and their member states have not managed to ensure that the victims of these abuses were granted redress, nationally or internationally.

5. The main reason why both Russian soldiers and Chechen fighters go on committing these abuses to this day is that they nearly always get away with it. Due to the restrictive policy of access to the Chechen Republic instituted by the Russian government, both for NGOs and for the press, most violations would never even come to light were it not for the courage and tireless efforts of some brave victims, journalists and human rights activists. Criminal investigations of gross violations by Russian forces and Chechen fighters - even of massacres of innocent Chechen civilians and targeted assassinations of local heads of administrations or their families - are nevertheless few and far between, depressingly ineffective and mostly fail to secure convictions in court (if they reach that stage, which is rare).

6. Non-judicial redress mechanisms set up by the Russian authorities, such as the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Human Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic, do little more than catalogue individual complaints. While the Assembly pays tribute to the courage of the Council of Europe experts working within that Office, it asks that all measures be taken to increase the effectiveness of their current mandate as regards influencing the human rights situation.

7. The mandate of the OSCE Assistance Group to Chechnya has not been renewed by the Russian government. The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has complained of Russia's lack of co-operation with it. Russia has yet to authorise the publication of its reports. The recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights are implemented by Russia with long delays, if at all. The European Court of Human Rights, set up to deal with individual violations of human rights, cannot hope to cope effectively with systematic human rights abuse of the Chechen scale via individual complaints. Lamentably, no member state or group of member states has yet found the courage to lodge an interstate complaint with the Court.

8. The result is a climate of impunity which encourages further human rights violations, and which denies justice to the thousands of victims, embittering the population to a point where the Chechen Republic could truly become ungovernable. If a meaningful political process is to develop in the Republic, human rights violations must stop, and those guilty of past abuses must be brought to justice.

9. To ensure that human rights are respected in the Chechen Republic in the future, the Assembly recommends that:

i. Chechen fighters should immediately stop their terrorist activities and renounce all forms of crime. Any kind of support for Chechen fighters should cease immediately;

ii. Russian forces be better controlled, and discipline enforced: all relevant military and civilian regulations, constitutional guarantees and international and humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva Conventions and the protocols thereto, should be fully respected during all operations, including full co-operation with the prokuratura before, during and after such operations;

iii. in so far as the security situation allows, troops should be confined to their barracks or withdrawn from the Chechen Republic altogether;

iv. those members of Russian forces suspected of committing abuses be fully investigated and, if found guilty, severely punished in accordance with the law, regardless of their rank and position;

v. the recommendations of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights should be implemented immediately by the Russian Federation.

10. To ensure that those guilty of abuses be brought to justice, the Assembly:

i. demands better co-operation from the Russian authorities with national and international mechanisms of redress, both judicial and non-judicial;

ii. calls on member states of the Council of Europe to pursue all avenues of accountability with regard to the Russian Federation without further delay, including interstate complaints before the European Court of Human Rights and the exercise of universal jurisdiction for the most serious crimes committed in the Chechen Republic;

iii. considers that, if the efforts to bring to justice those guilty of human rights abuses are not intensified, and the climate of impunity in the Chechen Republic prevails, the international community should consider setting up an ad hoc tribunal to try war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Chechen Republic, modelled on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to be empowered to try all such crimes committed in the Chechen Republic;

iv. urges Russia to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court without delay.

II. Draft recommendation

1. The Assembly refers to its Resolution... (2003) on the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic. It reiterates its belief that there will be no peace without justice in Chechnya.

2. The Assembly believes that urgent action is necessary to counteract the climate of impunity which has developed in the Chechen Republic over the last decade. Those guilty of past human rights abuses committed by both sides to the conflict must be brought to justice without further delay, and further human rights violations must be actively prevented.

3. Considering that the efforts undertaken so far by all actors involved, starting with the Russian government, administration and judicial system, but also by the Council of Europe and its member states, have failed dismally to improve the human rights situation and to ensure that past human rights violations and particularly war crimes are adequately prosecuted, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i. reorient its assistance programmes in the North Caucasus towards an amelioration of the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic as the priority objective, and allocate sufficient funds to these programmes to make a real difference;

ii. ensure that non-governmental organisations active in preventing and documenting human rights violations in the Chechen Republic, as well as those assisting their victims in different ways, are involved in said assistance programmes;

iii. urge the Russian government to fully comply with the recommendations addressed to it in paragraphs 9 and 10 of Resolution... (2003) on the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic;

iv. if the efforts to bring to justice those guilty of human rights abuses are not intensified, and the climate of impunity in the Chechen Republic prevails, consider proposing to the international community the setting up of an ad hoc tribunal to try war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Chechen Republic, modelled on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to be empowered to try all such crimes committed in the Chechen Republic.

III. Draft order

1. The Assembly refers to its Resolution... (2003) and Recommendation... (2003) on the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic.

2. The Assembly instructs its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to report back to it at its September part-session on the implementation of these texts, and also of the recommendations of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.