Parliamentarians travel with us to the North Caucasus

The human rights situation in the North Caucasus is alarming. Two members of the Swedish Parliament, also members of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly: Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin and Björn von Sydow, accompany us on a monitoring trip to the region. By meeting local human rights defenders they will be briefed on the human rights violations that occur daily in these Russian republics.

Between 8 and 11 May the observation group will visit different parts of the North Caucasus region. We have arranged for Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin and Björn von Sydow, Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson for the Swedish delegation of PACE (Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly) to meet with some of the leading human rights defenders in the region, as well some civilians whose rights have been violated. Also, meetings with representatives from authorities will take place.

Ms de Pourbaix-Lundin and Mr von Sydow will accompany three representatives from Civil Rights Defenders: Robert Hårdh, Executive Director, Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Benedicte Berner, Vice Chair of the Board.

Robert Hårdh can be reached during the trip on: +46 709 14 63 14

The human rights situation in the North Caucasus – in brief

On a yearly basis the Russian government invests enormous sums of money to dampen the conflicts throughout the North Caucasus. Despite this, the conflict in Dagestan has transgressed into what can be equalled with civil war and the violence in Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria is still ongoing. Instead of dampening the conflicts Russian military and security forces are seemingly worsening it. Disappearances and extrajudicial executions occur daily.

One example of our work in the region is our cooperation with the human rights organisation Russian Justice Initiative. Together we have brought more than one hundred cases against Russia before the European Court. In all these cases Russia was found responsible for torture, disappearances and extrajudicial executions committed in the North Caucasus and was ordered to pay damages.

Human rights defenders in the region work under very difficult circumstances, putting their lives at stake to help victims obtain justice and to highlight the human rights violations in the North Caucasus. Since 2009 an increasing number of human rights defenders from the North Caucasus were harassed, beaten, kidnapped and murdered. Among others, Natalia Estemirova, human rights lawyer from Memorial Chechnya, who was abducted in Grozny on July 15, 2009 and later that day found shot dead in neighbouring lngushetia. The perpetrators have still not been brought to justice.

The murder of Estemirova was followed by several other murders of human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents, such as Chechen activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov, who were illegally detained and later found killed, and activist Maksharip Aushev, who was shot dead while travelling in Kabardino-Balkaria on October 25, 2009.

A decade of failure to stabilize the region and deal with the rampant impunity has widened the gap between the public and the government. Nonetheless, Russian law enforcement appears unwilling to investigate these crimes or prevent violations and as a consequence, more human rights abuses are taking place.

Civil Rights Defenders has recently initiate a new programme to further empower and urgently support human rights defenders at risk in the North Caucasus. For more information please contact Marie Månson, Programme Director for Support to Human Rights Defenders at Risk, on +46 8 545 277 33 or by e-mail: marie.manson@civilrightsdefenders.org

Categories: News.
Tags: Björn von Sydow, Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, Natalia Estemirova, Russian Justice Initiative, and Violence against human rights defenders.
Regions: The North Caucasus.