Doc. 8691

3 April 2000

Conflict in Chechnya

Recommendation 1444 (2000)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 705th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (30 March 2000)

With regards to the action proposed in paragraph 17 of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1444 (2000) in the conflict in Chechnya, the Committee of Ministers draws the attention of the Assembly, at the outset, to the appended letter (see Doc. 8678) addressed by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, illustrating the extent to which the issue of Chechnya has been given the highest priority by the Irish Chairmanship and by the Committee as a whole.

Re (i) : Rec 1444 has been transmitted to the Government of the Russian Federation.

Re (ii) : in view of the urgency of the matter, the Committee of Ministers has given the highest priority to the question of Council of Europe participation in the Human Rights Office, headed by Mr Vladimir Kalamanov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for ensuring human and civil rights and freedoms in the Chechen Republic, in close contact with the Secretary General and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles.

The substance of a letter to be addressed by the Secretary General to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation was agreed with Mr Kalamanov who also took part in an exchange of views on 22 March 2000 at the 703rd meeting of the Deputies. At the same meeting, the Deputies decided to provide consultative expertise to Mr Kalamanov's office in the form of Council of Europe consultative expert Staff, subject to the conditions as agreed with Mr Kalamanov and set out in the Secretary General's letter of 22 March 2000 being agreed by the Russian authorities. A positive decision on staff and financial resources was taken at the 705th meeting (30 March 2000) at which the Secretary General was instructed to proceed forthwith with an exchange of letters between himself and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to implement the provision by the Council of Europe of consultative expertise to Mr Kalamanov’s Office.

Re (iii) : The Committee of Ministers has considered the reports by the Human Rights Commissioner, and also noted the press release issued following the 15th high-level Quadripartite meeting between the European Union and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 14 March 2000.

The Committee of Ministers was informed by the Secretary General of his request to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to “furnish an explanation” under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights and of his subsequent correspondence with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Further, the Committee of Ministers has noted that a delegation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a visit to the Russian Federation from 26 February to 4 March 2000, during which it visited a number of places of detention in the Chechen Republic, including in Chernokozovo. At the end of this visit, consultations were held between the CPT's delegation and the Russian authorities.

Re. (iv) : The Committee of Ministers is reviewing urgently, on a tripartite basis (Council of Europe, European Commission and Russian Federation), co-operation activities aimed at strengthening democratic stability in the north Caucasus region. The proposed amendments to the Joint Programme, as well as priorities for future co-operation programmes, were discussed during a tripartite Steering Committee meeting on Friday 31 March 2000. The Committee of Ministers stressed its interest in close cooperation with other international organisations, including the OSCE.

Re. (v) : The Committee of Ministers is examining, with the Secretary General, proposals from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation concerning the joint organisation in the North Caucasus, in the near future, of a seminar on "the hierarchy of rules in a federal state and methods of harmonising federal and regional legislation".

Re. (vi) et (vii) : the Committee of Ministers is in favour of effective measures by member States to control the flow of arms into the area of North Caucasus (sub-paragraph. vii), and also shares the Assembly's view of the interest of organising, in co-operation with the Russian authorities, a North Caucasus regional conference/seminar, on democracy, rule of law and human rights, with the participation of the competent international organisations to contribute to the democratic rehabilitation of Chechnya (sub-paragraph vi), and would be ready to contribute.