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Helsinki Commission Members Urge Powell to Maintain Leadership on Chechen Resolution

Disappearances, Summary Executions
and Torture of “Particular Concern

Washington – Six members of the United States Helsinki Commission have written Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urging the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to push for a strong resolution on the conflict in Chechnya. “We urge strong U.S. leadership in Geneva to accomplish this important objective,” the Helsinki Commission Members wrote.

“We respectfully urge the United States to press for the adoption of a strong resolution on the conflict in Chechnya at the current session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva,” the Helsinki Commission Members wrote. “This conflict has resulted in egregious violations of international humanitarian law. Despite concerted efforts by the Russian leadership to portray the situation in Chechnya as approaching normal, the pattern of clear, gross and uncorrected violations of OSCE commitments by Russian forces continues.”

“Of particular concern are so-called ‘special operations’ undertaken by these forces often resulting in disappearances, summary executions, and torture,” the letter continues.

Signing the letter to Powell were Helsinki Commission Co-Chairmen Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) along with Commissioners Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL) and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD).

In 2000 and 2001, the United States co-sponsored successful resolutions on Chechnya at the UNCHR. Last year, as a non-member of that UN body, the United States co-sponsored a Chechnya resolution that lost by one vote. The 59th Session of the UNCHR began on March 17 and continues through April 25. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations The Honorable Jeane J. Kirkpatrick is Head of the U.S. Delegation to the UNCHR.

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