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Abstract from the report on the session related to the murder of Farid Babayev

Fourth Sitting
Tuesday 22 January 2008 at 3 p.m.

The State Duma elections in the Russian Federation on 2nd December 2007, and the pre-election campaign, were not fair and failed to meet commitments and standards set by the Council of Europe. The parliamentary election observers were clear in their criticisms, which included the widely-reported harassment of opposition parties.

There seems to be almost a total silence, however, about the murder of Mr Farid Babayev, a Yabloko party candidate, in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. Mr Babayev was shot when entering his house on 21 November and died of his wounds three days later. Besides being his partyТs leading regional candidate in the elections for the State Duma, Mr Babayev was known for his civil courage. He had spoken out about human rights abuses by regional authorities, and had organised protests. He had investigated the shooting of a peaceful demonstrator, the abductions of civilians and the use of excessive force in special police operations.

Neither political opposition nor human rights defence can be silenced or stopped by killing the persons involved. Membership of the Council of Europe presupposes that its commitments are respected by all, including by the Russian Federation.

Mr von Sydow,

To ask the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers,

Whether he is aware of the murder of Mr Babayev, and whether he will search for an answer to find out whether Mr BabayevТs death is connected to his efforts to hold the authorities accountable for human rights abuses in Dagestan; and

What the Council of Europe can do in order to prevent killings of political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists in Council of Europe member countries.Ф

He gave the floor to Mr Kubis.

Mr KUBIS. Ц The question raised by the honourable parliamentarian is particularly important as it concerns the possibility for all individuals, especially human rights defenders, including journalists, to investigate matters of public concern, and in particular cases of human rights abuses. There cannot be any genuine transparent democracy if those who scrutinise the activities of public authorities or other groups in society are threatened or even attacked physically because of their work in defence of human rights. This and the importance of protecting human rights defenders was underlined at the last session of the Forum for the Future of Democracy, held in Sweden last June.

Indeed, public authorities in member states have a duty to protect human rights defenders and, where acts of violence have unfortunately been committed, to investigate them thoroughly in order to bring to justice their perpetrators.

As regards journalists and other media professionals, this has been underlined by the Committee of Ministers on a number of occasions, including most recently in its declaration of 26 September 2007 on the protection and promotion of investigative journalism.

Regarding human rights defenders more generally, a draft declaration to improve the protection of human rights defenders and to promote their activities will be examined Ц and, I hope, adopted Ц by the Committee of Ministers at the beginning of February. This important text provides for a number of concrete measures that the governments of member states should take to this end. The activities conducted by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in support of human rights defenders, particularly during his country visits, also deserve to be mentioned.

I urge the governments of all our member states to be particularly vigilant and to take resolute steps along the lines that I have just indicated. I am confident that the Russian authorities will investigate the murder of Mr Babayev diligently, and I hope that the perpetrators of this appalling act will soon be identified and brought to courtЕ

See also:

The original at assembly.coe.int

The Murder of Farid Babayev

Fourth Sitting
Tuesday 22 January 2008 at 3 p.m.