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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Confronting Putin on Human Rights

Prima News reports:

The Initiative-taking Group on the Organization of a Public Tribunal for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity in the Russian Federation has been founded. Members include human rights activists Ludmila Alekseyeva, Valerie Abramkhin, Andrey Babushkin, Valerie Borshev, Lev Ponomarev, Yuri Samodurov, Mikhail Trepashkin, and Ernst Cherny. The first hearing of the tribunal is planned in April.

In a March 6 statement sent out by the "For Human Rights" movement, the Initiative-taking Group stated: "The need for this public tribunal is caused by the realities of today's life. Russian human rights organizations, which regularly obtain numerous citizen complaints of grave crimes carried out by representatives of Russian "power" structures (siloviki), have repeatedly addressed the General Procurator's office of the Russian Federation (RF), the Investigation Committee of the Procuratorship of the RF, and other relevant authorities with the demand that they conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and punish the guilty. However, none of these cases has been pursued, and the guilty have not been punished.

We believe that the public tribunal must be concentrated on two themes.

The first theme is information obtained by human rights activists about the torture and even, allegedly, murder of prisoners. This information has not been investigated by the authorities. Moreover, according to our information, numerous prison colonies have become torture zones, in which prisoners regularly undergo collective punishments and torture, but the complaints of prisoners are not investigated.

The second theme is the numerous kidnappings of young people in the republics of the North Caucasus by representatives of the "power" structures. Many disappear without leaving a trace. In those cases where kidnapped young people survive and are freed, they testify to torture and beatings and the participation in these actions by representatives of the authorities.

The basic purpose of the public tribunal is to draw attention to the themes listed above, and to ensure official investigation and punishment of the guilty parties.

The first session of public tribunal is planned for April 2008."

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