He was acting under powers given him under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights. His letter asks for: " explanations concerning the manner in which the Convention is currently being implemented in Chechnya, and the risks of violation which may result".
This is the first time a Secretary General of the Council of Europe has exercised this right with regard to an individual country. "Extraordinary situations need extraordinary action", he said. He has asked for an answer from Moscow "by 10 January 2000 at the latest".
Mr Schwimmer echoed statements made by the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Alvaro Gil-Robles, who visited Chechnya and neighbouring regions earlier this month, and underlined his extreme concern about the situation: "The war in itself constitutes a human rights violation."
Council of Europe Press Service
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