Human Rights House Foundation

Russia

Call for immediate investigation of the murder of Natalia Estemirova

Members of the Human Rights House Network call on the Chechen and Russian authorities to investigate the murder of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova.

Thursday, 16 July 2009, by Russian Research Centre for Human Rights

President of the Russian Federation
Dmitry Medvedev
Fax.: + 7 495 206-07-66

We strongly condemn the murder of the prominent human rights defender and journalist Natalia Estemirova. We consider this a political case and call on the Chechen and Russian authorities to conduct an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into this murder.

Natalia Estemirova was one of leading employees of the "Memorial" in the Caucasus. More than once, the authorities of the Chechen Republic expressed their discontent with her work. Her activities in the defence of human rights were noted by numerous international awards. She was the first laureate of tthe Anna Politkovskaya Award (2007) and winner of the Prize of the Swedish Parliament "Right to Existence" (2004). In 2005, the European Parliament awarded her with Robert Schumann Medal. Estemirova was also engaged in investigating crimes related to torture, executions and disappearances of people in the Chechen Republic. 

On the evening of July 15, Russian officials announced that the body of Natalya Estimirova had been found in Ingushetia with gunshot wounds in the head and chest. She had been abducted that morning near her home in the Chechen Republic.  

Natalia Estemirova is only the latest of the many prominent human rights defenders that have been killed in what human rights groups say is a climate of impunity. The coalition of human rights organizations is concerned about the safety of human rights defenders and strongly urges Russian authorities to ensure the protection of all human rights defenders and critical voices, in accordance with Article 1 of the Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which stipulated that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and particularly the relevant articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (especially arts. 6, 14, and 15) ratified by the Russian Federation on 16 October 1973. 

We call upon the Russian to bring to justice those responsible for this outrageous crime and demonstrate that lawlessness and impunity will not be tolerated.We also call upon the Russian Government to act so that the Government of the Chechen Republic follows binding international standards. 

Sincerely,

Russian Research Centre for Human Rights (on behalf of the following NGOs):

-    Human Rights Network Group
-    Independent Psychiatric Association of the Russian Federation
-    Moscow Centre for Prison Reform
-    Moscow Helsinki Group
-    Mother's Right Foundation
-    Non-violence International
-    Right of the Child
-    Right to Live and have Civil Dignity
-    Social Partnership Foundation
-    Union of the Committees of Soldiers' Mothers of the Russian Federation

Belarusian Human Rights House in exile (Lithuania)

The Norwegian Human Rights House (on behalf of the following NGOs):
-        The Human Rights House Foundation

The Rafto Foundation, Bergen, Norway

Human Rights House in Azerbaijan

Human Rights House Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (on behalf of the following NGOs):

-   Association of Female Citizens "Renaissance"
-   Foundation CURE
-   Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina
-   Regional Coordinator for Youth Groups
-   Serb Civic Council - Movement for Equality - The Council of the Sarajevo Canton
-   Woman and Society Centre

Human Rights House Skopje, Macedonia
-    Association for Democratic Initiatives – “ADI”
-    First Children Embassy in the World – “Megjashi”
-    Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of Macedonia
-    Macedonian Women’s Rights Centre – “Shelter Centre”
-    Polio Plus – Movement Against Disability

Russian Research Centre for Human Rights

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