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Amnesty Human Rights Day appeal to the UNSC

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

News Service 233/99 AI INDEX: EUR 46/44/99 10 December 1999

MEDIA ADVISORY

Chechen Republic

Amnesty International sends Human Rights Day appeal to the UN Security Council

To mark Human Rights Day, Amnesty International has sent an urgent appeal to the UN Security Council to immediately fulfil its responsibility under the UN Charter and remind all parties to the conflict in the Chechen Republic of their obligations to abide by international humanitarian law.

"As the world celebrates Human Rights Day, it would be a shocking message for the Security Council to remain silent while the Russian Federation, one of its Permanent Members, prepares to indiscriminately attack a city having argued that it is enough to have warned the civilians to leave," Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International is urging the UN Security Council to call on all parties to the conflict to grant full, unhindered and safe access to Chechnya for UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs, and to ensure the safety of any civilians wishing to leave Grozny along the so-called 'safe corridor', reportedly established by the Russian Federal forces.

Amnesty International also renews its call on the UN Security Council to establish an international investigation into allegations of violations of international humanitarian law in Chechnya to establish the truth and to identify those responsible.

The UN Security Council should remind parties to the conflict of the recently adopted Resolution 1265(1999), in particular operative paragraph 2, which "Strongly condemns the deliberate targeting of civilians in situations of armed conflict as well as attacks on objects protected under international law, and calls on all parties to put an end to such practices."

"There will be little to celebrate if on the eve of a new Millennium, the basic rights of men, women and children not taking part in the fighting are being reduced to ashes in Grozny." Amnesty International warned.

URGENT APPEAL TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

10 DECEMBER 1999 RUSSIAN FEDERATION: CHECHEN REPUBLIC

As the world celebrates Human Rights Day, it would be a shocking message for the Security Council to send if it were to remain silent as one of its Permanent Members prepares to indiscriminately attack a city, having argued that it is enough to have warned the civilians to leave.

On the 17 September 1999, the United Nations Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1265(1999) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. That resolution unequivocally reaffirmed the Council's primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security and expressed "its deep concern at the erosion in respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law and principles during armed conflict, in particular deliberate acts of violence against all those protected under such law, and express[ed] also its concern at the denial of safe and unimpeded access to people in need."

On 6 December the Russian Government, a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, issued an ultimatum to all those remaining in Grozny to leave by 11 December to avoid death.

In the light of this ultimatum, Amnesty International is calling on the UN Security Council to immediately fulfill its responsibility under the UN Charter and remind all parties to the conflict in the Chechen Republic of their obligations to abide by international humanitarian law and with the terms of Resolution 1265(1999), in particular operative paragraph 2, which "Strongly condemns the deliberate targeting of civilians in situations of armed conflict as well as attacks on objects protected under international law, and calls on all parties to put an end to such practices."

The Security Council should call on the Russian authorities to abide by the provisions of Protocol II Additional to the Geneva Conventions to which the Russian Federation is a party and, therefore, refrain from attacking those civilians who remain in Grozny after the deadline -- whether they are too old, sick, wounded, poor or scared to leave the city or have not even heard about the warning -- as they are not taking a direct part in hostilities and as such are protected from attack.

ENDS.../ Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom

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