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U.N. Chechnya Vote Welcomed


For more HRW Chechnya Coverage visit http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/russia/chechnya/ ----------------------------------------------

U.N. Chechnya Vote Welcomed (Geneva, April 24, 2000) -- Human Rights Watch today welcomed the passage of a United Nations resolution expressing grave concern about Russia's conduct of the war in Chechnya. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, at its annual meeting in Geneva, voted 25 to 7, with 19 abstentions, in favor of the resolution, capping several weeks of frantic diplomacy in which Russia tried to stave off such criticism.

"The resolution should have been a lot tougher," said Joanna Weschler, U.N. respresentative for Human Rights Watch. "But at least the United Nations has sent a strong signal to Russia. The world has gone on record that Russia's atrocities will not be ignored."

Weschler said the resolution should have been more straightforward in describing exactly who had committed the atrocities in Chechnya, and exactly what abuses had been committed. She said Human Rights Watch had also supported a more vigorous investigative process, with an international component, rather than a Russian national commission of inquiry.

"This vote shows that being a U.N. Security Council member doesn't shield you from scrutiny on human rights," said Weschler.

Human Rights Watch has documented serious war crimes by Russian troops, including mass killings and summary executions, rapes, widespread looting, as well as torture and beatings in "filtration camps" (see http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/russia/chechnya/). U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who visited the region, has also presented detailed information about mass killings, executions, torture including rape, and pillage to the Commission.

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