Yesterday the head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial in Dagestan, Mr Sirazhutdin Datsiev, was attacked on the way to his office in Makhachkala. I firmly condemn this violent assault against a member of Memorial. It is the latest of a succession of attacks in recent months targeting - human rights defenders working in the North Caucasus.
As I have said in previous occasions, the Russian authorities have the obligation to ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. Thus far, I have not received any information about progress in investigating these violent attacks, nor about adopting measures to protect the victims, their family members and their colleagues.
The environment for human rights defenders in the North Caucasus remains dangerous. Regrettably, the inaction by the authorities only worsens this climate, because it gives the impression that violence against defenders will be tolerated and go unpunished.
I therefore call on the Russian authorities to take swift action to investigate and punish those responsible for the attack against Mr Datsiev. More generally, the continuing attacks against those working in the field of human rights in the North Caucasus show the urgency of taking decisive steps to ensure defenders’ safety. As I have emphasised before, such steps should include the adoption of a specific legal framework, of a comprehensive public policy and a national action plan, as well as a fully-functional rapid response mechanism for protecting human rights defenders. In addition, the authorities should adopt an awareness-raising policy and promote the legitimacy and the work of human rights defenders.