3 June 2003
The human rights situation in the Chechen Republic
Recommendation 1600 (2003)
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 840th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (28 May 2003)
1. The Committee of Ministers refers to its reply adopted on 28 May 2003 to Recommendation 1593 (2003) of the Parliamentary Assembly on evaluation of the prospects of a political solution in the Chechen Republic and shares the Assembly’s opinion, expressed in Resolution 1323 (2003) that
the human rights situation in the (Chechen) Republic is the key to an equitable political solution based on national reconciliation (paragraph 2).
If a meaningful political process is to develop in the Republic, human rights violations must stop and those responsible for past abuses must be brought to justice (paragraph 8).
2. Since June 2000, a monthly discussion takes place in the Deputies on interim reports by the Secretary General on the work of the Council of Europe experts present in Chechnya under the item “Contribution of the Council of Europe towards restoration of the rule of law, respect of human rights and democracy in Chechnya”. Relevant Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations are being taken into account during these discussions.
3. These discussions also take into account additional information regarding the situation in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation provided by the Secretary General. Both the monthly interim reports and the addenda thereto are transmitted to the Assembly.
4. On 26 March 2003 at their 833rd meeting the Ministers’ Deputies adopted the Declaration, on a referendum held in the Chechen Republic on 23 March 2003, in which the Deputies stated in particular that:
“The Committee of Ministers expresses hope that adoption of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic will pave the way for the formation of legitimate bodies of power through democratic and fair elections, restoration of peace, the rule of law and full respect for human rights in the region.”
5. In order to enhance this process, the Committee of Ministers continues to encourage the Russian authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights are fully respected in the Chechen Republic, and that all violators of these rights are held accountable.
6. At the same time, the Committee of Ministers strongly condemns the various terrorist acts including suicide-attacks as well as the bomb explosion near the office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring human and civil rights and freedoms in the Chechen Republic, in Grozny on 21 April 2003, when the convoy of the Council of Europe experts was passing. It reiterates its call for an end to all terrorist activities in the region. The Committee stresses once again that there can be no alternative to a political solution.
7. The Committee of Ministers calls upon the Russian authorities to ensure that all existing Russian mechanisms are effectively used to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses. It furthermore calls for strengthened efforts to ensure further improvement in the human rights situation in the Republic.
8. Any further steps towards a political solution in Chechnya, in particular, the planned elections of the President and the Parliament, should be implemented in full compliance with the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
9. During the last three years the Council of Europe has actively contributed to the endeavours of the restoration of these principles, including through the continued presence of its staff in the Chechen Republic since June 2000.
10. Additional areas of activities of the Council of Europe experts working in the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Chechen Republic, were agreed upon with the Russian Foreign Minister in June 2002. Their implementation is taking place within the framework of the programme of co-operation in the Chechen Republic and contributes to the restoration of the rule of law, respect of human rights and democracy in the Republic.
11. The Committee of Ministers welcomes the new Agreement on the Establishment of the Joint Working Group that was signed on 14 March 2003, between Mr A-Kh. A. Sultygov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring Human Rights and Civil Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic, Mr A.N. Savenkov, Deputy General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation – Chief Military Prosecutor, and Mr S.N. Fridinskyi, Deputy General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation.
Its tasks include, inter alia, the
- assessment of the current state of respect of laws which ensure rights and freedoms of citizens
- measures to prevent possible violations of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and
- measures to rectify identified violations of the laws.
12. This Agreement provides additional important possibilities for the improvement of the human rights situation in the Chechen Republic. The Council of Europe expert staff will actively participate in the work of this Joint Working Group.
13. The recent terrorist attacks and the incident involving inter alia the Council of Europe experts may have an impact on the continued presence of the experts in the immediate future. The Committee of Ministers expects the prolongation of the mandate for a period of six months. This would enhance the various possibilities for the Council of Europe to continue its work in the Chechen Republic aimed at supporting the restoration of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
14. The Council of Europe is in constant contact with non-governmental organisations active in the Chechen Republic. These NGOs are involved in the assistance programmes whenever possible.