Will the Council of Europe fulfill its responsibilities?

Médecins Sans Frontières' hearing at the Council of Europe.
Chechnya/Paris, January 22, 2002 - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will be speaking today (Jan 22) to the Parliament of the Council of Europe where MSF will outline what it sees as a very serious situation in Chechnya and Ingushetia. The hearing is at the Refugees, Migration and Demography Commission. The Parliament of the Council of Europe will vote Wednesday January 23 on its position towards the human rights and humanitarian situation in Chechnya - and Russia's responsibilities. The international consensus, reinforced since September 11, 2001, has been to accomodate Russia as a new ally with what it calls its 'fight against terrorism' in Chechnya. Will the Council of Europe take on its responsibilties towards the rights of the Chechen people ? The Council of Europe is the only international body to discuss the war that resumed in 1999 on Chechen territory. Having excluded the Russian delegation from Parliament and suspended its right to vote in April 2000, the Council of Europe restored those rights a few months later. The Council of Europe is there, in theory, to make sure that human rights are respected within its 43 member States. MSF calls on the Council to fulfil this mission. During the hearing, MSF will give voice to what it sees as the blatant strategy by the Russian federal authiorities of refusing any assistance to Chechen refugees in Ingushetia who are at risk. This strategy is intended to force these people to return to Chechnya - which is itself in a condition of lawlessness where a policy of terror against civilians has been persued with utter impunity. On Friday 25th of January, following the Council of Europe's vote, MSF will hold a press conference in Paris. Mr Sergueï Kovalev (honorary president of the human rights organisation 'Memorial', member of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe and member of the Russian Parliament, the Douma) will be present. MSF will release its report entitled 'Chechnya - Ingushetia : a strategy of refusing assistance to people in danger' and will be launching an exhibition of photos taken in Ingushetia by Alexandre Glyadyelov.