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Harassment of PACE Human Rights Prize winner needs urgent investigation

“It is in the strongest possible terms that I denounce the latest intimidation and harassment of prominent human rights defenders in Chechnya, in particular the Committee against Torture headed by Igor Kalyapin,the winner of the 2011 Parliamentary Assembly Human Rights Prize,” James Clappison (United Kingdom, EC), Chair of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, said in a statement today.

On 13 December, the main office of the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) – which forms part of the Committee against Torture – was burned down in Grozny. The next day, the police searched and detained two members of the JMG, confiscating laptops, cameras and phones, before releasing them later that day without charges.

“These events mark the most recent climax of a worrying campaign of intimidation directed against human rights defenders in Chechnya. I call upon the Russian authorities to ensure a prompt, full and effective investigation into these incidents. Those responsible must be held to account, and the safety of all human rights defenders guaranteed,” Mr Clappison added.

The rapporteur on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus Michael McNamara (Ireland, SOC), the rapporteur on the protection of human rights defenders Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE), and the rapporteur on how to prevent inappropriate restrictions on NGO activities Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg, SOC) also associate themselves with this statement.