RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR WAR CRIMES

18/11/1999
Press release
en fr

The tragedy suffered by the Chechen civilians deserves more than an occasional, timid word of protest.

In order to justify the armed intervention in Kosovo, the western nations invoked the noble, universal values of protecting the rights of humankind. The population of Chechnya is not only suffering from bombings but also from Western cynicism. Nonetheless, the last few weeks’ bombardment of Chechnya aimed at the civilian population and resulting in destruction of housing and forced deportations, are veritable war crimes. These acts constitute serious infractions of four Geneva conventions (12 August 1949) relative to the protection of civilian population during armed conflicts. They are also serious violations of international laws and customs.

The IMF and other lenders are morally culpable of complicity with war crimes by providing the financial means for their commission. The Russian government and the military are the parties legally responsible for war crimes.

We remind that, during the recent negotiations on the future international criminal court, the western and Russian governments made sure that only the war crimes as part of a larger plan or policy or those within a series of crimes committed on a large scale can be brought before such a court. The crimes committed by the Russian government satisfy even this constricting definition. Therefore, as this is a question of international crimes, the responsible parties should be held accountable.

That is why the FIDH calls upon the OSCE and the Security Council of the United Nations to allow an international investigation commission to evaluate immediately the nature and the severity of the committed crimes, all within the framework of an international ad hoc tribunal.

The FIDH also notes that certain countries, many of them European, have included in their domestic laws, a provision for universal jurisdiction stemming from the 1949 Geneva accords. Therefore, any such nation is under the obligation to arrest immediately any civil or military person suspected of having committed war crimes in Chechnya, if such a person is found within that nation’s territory.

The nature of the committed crimes is such that it requires an urgent meeting of European member nations of the Council of Europe, so that a suspension of Russia’s membership in that organization is considered.

Finally, it is clear that the international funds apportioned for loans to Russia should be frozen immediately, as long as that nation continues to undertake intolerable acts in Chechnya. These measures will not undo the suffering, but they are the least the international community must do in view of its dishonorable treatment of the problem up to this point.

The FIDH calls upon and supports the increasing initiatives taken by European nations so that flagrant instances of war crimes can finally cease.

Read more
communique