Doc. 9126

21 June 2001

Conflict in the Chechen Republic – recent developments and humanitarian situation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Chechnya

Recommendation 1498 (2001) and 1499 (2001)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 756th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (12–14 June 2001)

1.       The Committee of Ministers recalls its replies, adopted on 27 June 2000 and on 17 January 2001, to Recommendations 1456 (2000) and 1478 (2000) of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning the situation in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation. It also recalls the report to the Parliamentary Assembly on 25 January 2001 by the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Indulis Berzins, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, on his visit to Russia on 18﷓19 January 2001, and the Final Communiqué adopted at the 108th Session of the Committee of Ministers (11 May 2001).

2.       The Committee of Ministers recalls that it continues to give high priority to contributing, in close consultation with the Russian Federation, as well as with the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and the interested international partners, to the respect for human rights, democracy and the restoration of the rule of law in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation. It stresses the importance of seeking a political solution on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

3.       The Committee of Ministers shares serious concern about the situation in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation and, while expressing appreciation for measures undertaken by the Federal Authorities in the field of legal and administrative structures and economic and social reconstruction to improve this situation, it stresses the need for more rapid progress in combating violations of human rights, in the restoration of the rule of law and in political-economic reconstruction. It condemns all terrorist activities and attacks in particular against civilians, as well as the use of landmines and other devices causing widespread civilian casualties, and calls for the immediate release of all hostages. It expresses deep concern at the suffering of the population and particularly of internally displaced and missing persons.

4.       The Committee notes with satisfaction the continuing restoration of the judiciary in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, which constitutes an important step in the stabilisation of the situation there. The Committee also notes with satisfaction the prolongation of the mandate of the Council of Europe experts in the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for human and civil rights and freedoms in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, Mr Kalamanov, up to 4 October 2001. The Committee of Ministers reiterates its support for the action of the experts.

5.       It agrees that a more effective follow-up should be given to the applications concerning alleged crimes and human rights violations. In this connection, it welcomes the creation of a Joint Working Group between Mr Kalamanov’s Office and the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, in co-operation with the Military Prosecutor, which could facilitate further progress.

6.       The Committee of Ministers takes note of the information that during the next six-month period (4 April - 4 October 2001), in addition to the tasks already performed (collecting and channelling to the Russian authorities information about alleged human rights abuses, search for missing persons, restoration of the judiciary etc.), the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation will give more attention to:

-       effective follow-up by the Russian authorities to applications registered by the Office;

-       monitoring of human rights enquiries, investigations and cases in courts;

-       support for the proper functioning of the civil administration of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, for law enforcement bodies and for the restoration of the rule of law in general.

The experts of the Council of Europe will be closely involved in these tasks.

7.       The Committee of Ministers also welcomes the setting up by the Parliamentary Assembly and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, of a Joint Working Group on Chechnya which held its first meetings in Moscow on 21 to 22 March and in Prague on 23-24 May 2001. It welcomes and encourages the intention to hold frequent meetings in this framework.

8.       It further underlines the importance of an immediate return of the OSCE Assistance Group to the Chechen Republic.

9.       The Committee of Ministers confirms its readiness to give the Russian authorities all possible assistance with the institutional reconstruction and restoration of democracy in Chechnya, notably by the organisation at the appropriate time and place of a seminar, as a follow up to last year’s seminar in Vladikavkaz. This would contribute to the discussion on the future of the Chechen Republic within the framework of the Russian Federation and its Constitution, including the restoration of democratic life and the creation of elected bodies.

10.       The Committee of Ministers reiterates the utmost importance of effective security, economic and social reconstruction of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, creating the basic conditions for normal life (housing, work opportunities, health care, education etc.) and for the voluntary return of displaced persons.

11.       In this respect, the Committee of Ministers welcomes the “Programme for Economic and Social Reconstruction of Chechnya in 2001” adopted by the Government of the Russian Federation on 9 February 2001. Its implementation should be substantially accelerated.

12.       Action by the provisional Chechen Government led by Mr Ilyasov, and by Mr Yelagin, Minister of the Russian Federation for Coordination of Activities of the Federal Executive Bodies on Social and Economic Development of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, should be instrumental in this direction.

13.       Distribution of international humanitarian aid and economic assistance will be better coordinated and strengthened by participation of international experts in supervision of aid and assistance distribution by the existing Russian mechanisms. Necessary measures should be taken for the improvement of the quality of aid. A larger share of it should be reoriented to the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation. To achieve these ends, safety and security are essential.

14.       The Committee of Ministers continues to follow developments very closely in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation within the framework of its regular meetings at Deputy level under the item “contribution of the Council of Europe towards restoration of the rule of law, respect of human rights and democracy in Chechnya”. These discussions have been based, in particular, on information contained in the monthly interim reports (8 to date) by the Secretary General on the presence of the experts of the Council of Europe in 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 of the Russian Federation. They have also taken into account supplementary 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 regularly to the Assembly.

15.       On 14 and 28 March 2001 the Ministers’ Deputies took note with appreciation, after an extensive debate, of the Report (CM/Inf(2001)9) by Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on his visit to the Russian Federation including the Chechen Republic from 25 February to 4 March 2001. The Committee of Ministers welcomes the readiness expressed by the delegation of the Russian Federation with regard to the proposals made by the Commissioner in his report. The Secretariat has been instructed, in collaboration with the Russian authorities, to study the modalities of implementing the proposals, particularly in the light of the views expressed during the Deputies’ debates.

16.       The Committee of Ministers has also devoted attention to specific co-operation and assistance programmes aimed at strengthening democratic stability in the North Caucasus within the framework of:

a.       the Joint Programme between the European Commission and the Council of Europe which entered into force in February 2001 and was based on the results of the Council of Europe Seminar held in Vladikavkaz in May 2000;

b.       Project on Federalism in Russia - two seminars specially devoted to the North Caucasus are planned for 2001 (to be held in Rostov on the Don in June and November).

17.       A delegation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CPT) carried out, from 19 to 23 March 2001 a third visit to the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation (the first two visits were held in February/March and April 2000). The Committee of Ministers has noted with approval that the report of the first visit was made public by the Russian authorities. It welcomes and encourages the ongoing statewide co-operation between the CPT and the Russian Federation which is an important means of promoting the reform of the criminal justice and the penitentiary system in the country.

18.       Following the agreement of the Government of the Russian Federation, the Committee of Ministers intends to ask the Secretary General to assign to a team of legal experts the task of examining jointly with a team of Russian experts the conformity of the “1998 Russian Federal Law on the Suppression of Terrorism” with Council of Europe standards and, if necessary, recommend concrete action in that respect. The Committee of Ministers will keep the Parliamentary Assembly informed of the results of this examination.