Russia/EU Summit: Meeting shouldn't duck human rights

In order for the EU to genuinely engage in a constructive relationship with Russia there are serious human rights issues that should be addressed, said Amnesty International ahead of tomorrow’s summit in Nice (14 November), where the EU is expected to resume EU-Russia partnership talks.

Amnesty International’s EU Office Director Nicolas Beger said:

“Eagerness to resume the negotiations suspended in September following the Russia-Georgia conflict should not lead to a softening of the EU’s commitment to speak out on human rights problems that remain unaddressed by Russian authorities.”

In a letter addressed to the French Presidency of the EU (available at www.amnesty-eu.org ), Amnesty International highlighted the need to raise ongoing violations in the Northern Caucasus republics where arbitrary detention, torture and “disappearances” continue to be widespread. The organisation stressed that human rights defenders - including journalists and lawyers - have been targeted and it called on the EU to request information from the Russian authorities on the disputed killing in August of Magomed Evolev, owner of the independent website Ingushetia.org, who died from gunshot wounds in police custody.

Nicolas Beger added:

“After Anna Politkovskaya, the death of Evolev appears to confirm a disturbing pattern of persecution of those who campaign for human rights and freedom of speech. The EU needs to again speak with one voice against this.”

Amnesty International is also seriously concerned that continuing tension in the zone where the Russia-Georgia conflict took place in August is preventing people from returning to their homes. Next week (18 November) Amnesty will publish a new report, “Civilians in the line of fire: the Georgia-Russia conflict”, detailing the organisation’s human rights concerns with the conduct of both parties to the conflict.

Meanwhile, Amnesty believes that the presence of international observers can stabilise the Georgia/Russia situation and it is urging the EU Presidency to call upon the Russian authorities to facilitate the access of international observers to South Ossetia and to cooperate fully with all international monitoring forces deployed in the area so that all displaced people can return to their homes in dignity.

Amnesty International also called on the Presidency to press the Russian authorities to allow an international investigation into human rights violations during the conflict and its aftermath.

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