Hammarberg: A “culture of impunity” exists in parts of Europe

A “culture of impunity” exists in parts of Europe due to the failure to investigate seriously the politically-motivated murders of human rights defenders, journalists, activist lawyers and critics.

In an article published today, Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights, focuses his critiques on the inquiries which followed the deaths of Georgiy Gongadze in Ukraine (September 2000), Elmar Huseynov in Azerbaijan (March 2005) and Hrant Dink in Turkey (January 2007). The case of Natalia Estemirova (July 2009) in the Russian Federation is also cited.

Hammrberg points to the “escalation of politically-motivated killings during the past decade” and decries the failure to catch the killers, which he says, “encourages further murders” and has a “chilling effect on public debate.”

The Commissioner adds “The individual tragedies of the victims’ deaths have been compounded by suspicions of cover-ups in their aftermath.”

”There is a suspicion that the very persons who order these crimes – or their superiors or proxies – also exercise sufficient influence over the competent state authorities to prevent, pervert, impede or prolong the official investigations, rendering them ineffective.”

Hammarberg notes that the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has adopted guidelines on measures governments should take to eradicate impunity.

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