UK Annual Report on Human Rights was Released
The UK Foreign Secretary launched the 2009 Annual Report on Human Rights, in which Chechnya and Russia are listed under “Countries of Concern”, at an event in Lancaster House.
The report is published as a command paper and laid before Parliament. It takes into account comments and recommendations from the UK Foreign Affairs Committee and NGOs, and provides information to specialist and non-specialist readers about the work.
The report was presented on 17 March 2010 by David Miliband, Foreign Secretary of UK, and Baroness Kinnock, Minister of State of UK, to members of non-government and human rights organizations.
“We are clear that the human rights situation in Russia is serious,” the report says. The authors believe that in certain locations the situation has deteriorated radically. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is particularly concerned about the human rights situation in North Caucasus, about the implementation of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, about the safety of journalists and the ethnic minority situation in seperatist Abkhazia and North Ossetia. The report mentions numerous meetings on human rights issues between UK diplomats and Russian officials.
The diplomats are shocked by the sharp increase in murders of human rights activists in 2009. “We want to see better support for human rights defenders; an end to the apparent impunity for those who attack them; and for all human rights violations against human rights defenders to be investigated fully, promptly and impartially. Those involved should be brought to justice in trials which meet international standards,” the report says.
The report recalls the murder of Stanislav Merkelov (a lawyer) and Anastasia Baburova (a journalist working for Novaya Gazeta) on 19 Jan 2009 and the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Natalya Estemirova, a Chechen human rights activist. It also mentions the murder of Zarema Sadullayeva and her husband, the head of “Let’s Save the Generation” – a Chechen youth support NGO – who had a collaboration with the UK Embassy.
The journalist job has become more dangerous, the report says – Novaya Gazeta alone has lost four staff members, one of them in 2009. It is also noted that repressive measures taken by the Russian authorities made journalists accustomed to self-censure.
The situation in North Caucasus especially in Chechnya remains tense – even though the so-called “counter-terrorist operation” is officially over, it is being sporadically re-introduced in specific regions. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture regularly notes the crimes committed by Kadirov’s henchmen in Chechnya. The situation in neighboring Ingushetia and Dagestan has also deteriorated markedly. Kidnappings, torture and lynch mob killings are reported on a regular basis.
The entire report is available HERE.
On the other hand, today (March 23th) Heidi Hautala, who heads the parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, has criticized Russia over the failure to track down the killers of human rights activists. Ms Hautala said at her statement that “the prevailing impunity toward the perpetrators” has been a “constant subject” in contacts with Russian authorities. Ms Hautala’s statement was focusing on the dangers of human rights activities in Russia. She said there have been no convictions in July’s slaying of activist Natalya Estemirova, nor in the January 2009 killing of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who worked with her in Chechnya.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rapporteurs Dick Marti arrives on Tuesday in Ingushetia to look into the situation with human rights in the North Caucasus. On Wednesday, he will meet with members of non-governmental organizations, President Yunusbek Yevkurov and the chiefs of law enforcement, as well as with representatives of public and human rights organizations. He is visiting Russia to gather the necessary facts for a report on the North Caucasus. The report is to be put together by the PACE session in June.