Strasbourg, 22.06.2010 – The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has urged Russia to fight terrorism in the North Caucasus by “respecting fundamental rights and the tenets of the rule of law”, by following the example of other countries that have had to face it, and by working more closely with local NGOs and the Council of Europe.
In a resolution unanimously approved today based on a report by Dick Marty (Switzerland, ALDE), the Assembly expressed “compassion and solidarity” with the families of those who had suffered terrorist attacks, but said the human rights situation in the North Caucasus was “the most serious and most delicate” in the whole Council of Europe area. The parliamentarians noted:
- in the Chechen Republic, despite impressive reconstruction efforts, “a climate of pervading fear”, disappearances of government opponents and human rights defenders, reprisals against the families of suspected fighters, and intimidation of the media and civil society, all in an atmosphere of “personalisation of power”;
- in Ingushetia, the growth of “constructive dialogue” with civil society since the appointment of the new President, but also an alarming upsurge of violence since 2009, including murders and disappearances;
- in Dagestan, an outbreak of fresh terrorist acts, prompting responses from the security forces which “were not always lawful and productive”, putting in peril the admirable age-old tradition of peaceable religious cohabitation there.
Addressing the Assembly as part of the debate, the President of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said there had been “enormous progress” in the region in the last three or four years, and pledged to uphold human rights and punish violations. “As President I, more than anyone, am interested in turning the North Caucasus into a zone of order – we are the ones who live there.”
In their resolution, the parliamentarians pointed out that the European Court of Human Rights had been compelled to assume a role of “last-ditch protection” for many victims in the region, finding grave and repeated violations of fundamental rights which illustrate a “climate of impunity”. This and the passiveness of the authorities undermine the population’s trust in the security forces and “feed the nefarious spiral of violence,” they said.
They also said there were strong indications that the Chechen power, or at least circles close to it, were directly implicated in the murder of Umar Israilov on the streets of Vienna.
They recommended that the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers directly monitor Russia’s commitments as regards the situation in the North Caucasus.