EU-Russia Summit: Tony Blair urged to break silence on Chechnya
The human rights organisation, which has this week written to Downing Street outlining its concerns on Chechnya, is looking to Mr Blair to urge fellow EU leaders to likewise press for meaningful action on Chechnya from the Russian authorities.
The appeal to Tony Blair coincides with the publication of an Amnesty International 'Open Letter' to the 15 EU heads of state and their 10 'accession country' counterparts. The document includes information on two fresh cases of 'disappearance' of Chechens after apparently being taken into custody by Russian forces.
Thousands of such 'disappearances' have been recorded since 1999, one of a number of serious unresolved human rights issues relating to the republic. To date only a handful of Russia's security forces have been held responsible for these abuses.
Amnesty International UK Russia Campaign Manager Becky Hess said:
'Tony Blair can make a valuable contribution at this summit simply by breaking the diplomatic silence on human rights abuses in Chechnya and urging President Putin to deal decisively with this.
'As we present a dossier to EU leaders detailing new abuses in Chechnya and spelling out the need for human rights monitors and journalists to be able to gain access to the region, we are reminding the PM of the need to get EU partners to ratchet up pressure on Chechnya.'
Amnesty International's document to the EU notes that despite the recent referendum in Chechnya the risk to civilians from indiscriminate attacks by Chechen fighters, from attacks attributed to Chechen rebels, and from special operations and so-called 'targeted measures' by the Russian federal forces, has not diminished. Amnesty International remains concerned at reports, including by the Prosecutor of the Chechen Republic, that gross human rights violations during such operations continue unabated.
The human rights organisation is urging the Russian President to take immediate action to:
- guarantee protection of the human rights of the Chechen population including the internally displaced
- bring to justice those responsible for the grave abuses committed during the conflict in Chechnya
- grant access to Chechnya to UN human rights rapporteurs, re-establish a monitoring presence of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and to reaffirm the commitment to cooperate with Council of Europe experts.
The full Open Letter to the EU on the EU-Russia Summit - 30 May 2003: http:// www.amnesty-eu.org
The Russia Federation: Denial of Justice, report - 29 October 2002: http://www.amnesty.org/russia/pdfs/russia_report.pdf /p>
Further information about our campaign on Russia: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=22 /p>