EU-Putin Summit and Chechnya: A test of EU credibility

Amnesty International has recently launched a worldwide campaign for justice in the Russian Federation, exposing the vicious cycle of abuse and impunity that affects the basic rights of ordinary people throughout the country.

Amnesty International EU Office Director Dick Oosting said:

'In terms of human rights abuse, Chechnya is the 'infectious sore' that corrupts so much of what is happening in Russia.

'Both sides to the conflict commit atrocities, but it is of paramount importance that the EU confronts Russian policy on Chechnya. Monday's EU-Russia summit is a litmus test, especially as it comes at a time when the EU is discussing how to assert its global role as a community based on shared values.

An EU that shies away from insisting that Russia end blatant impunity for the most serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, cannot and will not be respected as a credible promoter of reforms aimed at building the rule of law across the Russian Federation.'

In the aftermath of the tragic events concerning the Melnikov Theatre hostage crisis, Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the effects of the so-called 'anti-terrorist' crackdown, in particular:

- Pressure on displaced Chechens to return despite serious security risks

- Harassment of Chechens living in Moscow following the hostage crisis

- Reports of stepped-up military operations in Chechnya

- Proposed laws restricting media reporting in Russia

- Proposed laws to allow the burial of 'unidentified' people considered terrorists

In its appeal released today, 'Human Rights in Chechnya - A litmus test for EU-Russia relations', Amnesty International specifically urges the EU to call on the Russian government to:

- Ensure civilians are protected from the impact of security force operations

- Hold comprehensive, impartial investigations into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes, and bring those responsible to justice

- Ensure full access to detainees by the International Committee of the Red Cross

- Grant access to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and allow unrestricted access to independent media and human rights monitors

- Make public the names and whereabouts of all detainees and the charges brought against them

- Establish an independent and impartial investigation into the events at the Melnikov Theatre - including the circumstances of all deaths - and publish the findings

Further information:

The full 'Human Rights in Chechnya - A litmus test for EU-Russia relations' document is available at www.amnesty-eu.org

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