Masterminds still not Brought to Justice, Ten Years after the Murder of Novaya Gazeta Journalist Anna Politkovskaya

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Year 06 Oct 2016 Country Russian Federation Category Impunity for murder Source of threat Unknown Partner EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , PEN , RSF Alert level Level 1
06 Oct 2016 Russian Federation Impunity for murder Unknown EFJ/IFJ , Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , IPI , PEN , RSF Level 1
No state reply yet

On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a Novaya Gazeta journalist and one of Russia’s most respected investigative reporters, was found shot dead in a presumed contract killing in her apartment block in central Moscow. On 9 June 2014, after several arrests, releases and retrials, the Moscow’s highest criminal court sentenced five men to prison for the murder of the journalist. Two organisers of the team that murdered Ms Politkovskaya received life sentences in prison. However, the case remains unresolved until now because of significant indications that those convicted were fulfilling a contract killing to silence an investigative journalist on somebody else’s orders. The investigation has still not revealed who stood behind the killing and the motive for the murder. Ms Politkovskaya wrote accurately about human rights abuses in Chechnya and was known for her criticism of the policies of the Russian President and Government in the region. On the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Ms Politkovskaya, all the partner organisations of this Platform are jointly submitting this case of ongoing impunity following the murder of the journalist. The eight organisations together call on the government of the Russian Federation to ensure that all those responsible for her violent death are brought to justice through an open and transparent judicial process. And they call for renewed and determined measures to be taken to end impunity for all crimes committed against journalists in Russia. The case will remain open and unresolved until all those who ordered this crime are identified and brought to justice.

Follow-ups

17 Jul 2018 : In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Mazepa and Others v. Russia (application no. 15086/07) the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. It ruled that investigation of journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s murder failed to look properly into who commissioned the crime.
07 Oct 2016 : Impunity for crimes committed against journalists in Russia must end, OSCE Representative says on tenth anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s death

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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