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PACE presents its 2011 Human Rights Prize to the Russian NGO 'Committee against Torture'

Strasbourg, 23.06.2011 – At the end of a special debate on the state of human rights in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today presented its 2011 Human Rights Prize to the Russian NGO “Committee against Torture” (Komitet Protiv Pytok), in recognition of the organisation’s key role in assisting victims of serious human rights abuses.

“This relatively small organisation has carried out invaluable work and can be proud of its achievements. The relentless determination of its leaders, coupled with the competence of its members, many of whom are volunteers, has had a tremendous impact on the situation of human rights in Russia, and in particular in the North Caucasus region,” PACE President Mevlüt Çavusoglu said presenting the prize to Igor Kalyapin, Chair of the Committee.

The President added: “Its work, which is not without risk given the danger of reprisals by criminals fearing for their impunity, goes straight in the right direction, a direction which has been set in unison by the Council of Europe and by the highest authorities of the Russian Federation: to uphold and promote the rule of law, by fighting impunity. I am confident that there will be further opportunities for this organisation and our Assembly to collaborate in this area”.

A panel including leading figures from the world of human rights recommended the Committee against Torture from among ten individuals and organisations nominated for the prize, praising its “effective independent investigations” alongside official state investigations, especially in the Chechen Republic. “By ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee has contributed to the reinforcement of the rule of law and has made an important contribution to the fight against impunity,” the panel said.