Swedish Presidency should put pressure on Russia

In every dialogue with Russia, the European Union should raise the question about human rights in North Caucasus. EU should put pressure on Russia to carry through reforms that would protect human rights defenders in the region, and strengthen the civil society. These are some of the conclusions that participants on a Stockholm conference about North Caucasus agreed upon.

The conference ”North Caucasus: Human Rights Defenders at Risk” was organised by Civil Rights Defenders (former Swedish Helsinki Committee) in cooperation with National Endowment for Democracy, October 27-28 2009. One of the results was the adoption of a number of recommendations to the EU about how the human rights situation in North Caucasus can be improved.

“Russia’s leading human rights defenders gathered on this conference. They work under very difficult circumstances and are being systematically persecuted and threatened. During the last few months several prominent human rights defenders have been murdered. The discussions during the two day conference have resulted in a concrete strategy for how to improve the protection for these brave people”, says Robert Hårdh, executive director of Civil Rights Defenders.

On November 18th a top level meeting will take place between Russia and the EU. The meeting will include discussions about a new agreement on cooperation. The participants of the North Caucasus conference in Stockholm agreed on a number of recommendations to Sweden and the EU in the eve of this meeting. Among other, it is underlined that EU should put pressure on Russia to respect its international obligations according to international law, and investigate crimes against human rights.

Russia has been found guilty in more than 100 cases by the European Court of human rights in Strasbourg, for serious crimes against human rights in North Caucasus. The EU and the Swedish presidency must put pressure on Russia to implement these judgments. Moreover, Russia should be encouraged to ratify protocol 14 of the European Convention on human rights, which governs the work of the European Court.

EU should also encourage Russia to carry out legal reforms that would strengthen the civil society, and change the present legislation that obstructs the work for non-governmental organisations and individual human rights defenders.

Several members of the prominent Russian human rights organisation Memorial participated in the conference. Memorial, partner of Civil Rights Defenders, was recently awarded this year’s Sacharov prize, a prize which is awarded by the European Parliament for special achievements related to human rights. Memorial works for basic human rights in the former Soviet states, like Armenia, Moldova and the Ukraine.

The situation related to human rights and the conditions for individual human rights defenders in the North Caucasus is alarming. During the latest couple of months several prominent human rights defenders have been murdered. The Russian authorities are not just unwilling to conduct thorough investigations of these systematic attacks; they are also clearly obstructing the work of human rights defenders by openly threatening them.


NORTH CAUCASUS Recommendations FINAL RU Nov 4 2009

Statement regarding murder of Maksharip Aushev

Categories: Statements.
Tags: EU-Russia relations, North Caucasus Recommendations, and Stockholm process.
Regions: The North Caucasus.