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Polish Helsinki Committee: Council of Europe should take Russia to court over Chechnya

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Vienna, 2 December 1999. In a letter to Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, the Polish Helsinki Committee has warned the Council of Europe about its "passive attitude" toward the Russian government's actions in Chechnya, and suggested that members states lodge applications against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. Under Article 33 of the European Convention on Human Rights, member states may bring alleged breaches of the Convention by another member state to the European Court.
"News from Chechnya justifies suspicions that the actions carried out there by the Russian government bear the features of genocide. After the firm response by the international community to the events in Kosovo, it is difficult to accept the passive attitude toward what is going on in Chechnya," the Committee stated.

The Polish Helsinki Committee is one of the most respected human rights organizations in the world. It was formed in 1982 by activists, a number of whom were involved in the Solidarity Movement, and produced information about human rights violations during the period of martial law. Its members include many of Poland's most respected moral voices, including Marek Edelman, the last living survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943; Ewa Letowska, the first Polish Commissioner for Human Rights Protection; Marek Antoni Nowicki, a former member of the European Commission on Human Rights; Marek Nowicki, a leading expert on human rights in the former Soviet Union; and Andrzej Rzeplinski, professor of law at Warsaw University, who serves on the Executive Committee of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.

For more information: Andrzej Rzeplinski, Polish Helsinki Committee, +48-22-828 1008, e-mail: rzepa@hfhrpol.waw.pl