International Day to End Impunity: Russia must end impunity and rexamine Akhmednabiyev case

International Day to End Impunity: Russia must end impunity and rexamine Akhmednabiyev case - Protection

On International Day to End Impunity (2 November), ARTICLE 19  is calling on the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to end the cycle of impunity for attacks on those who exercise their right to free speech.

We are highlighting the case of Ahkmednabi Akhmednabiyev, a Russian journalist who was shot dead in July 2013 as he left for work in Makhachkala, Dagestan. A reporter for Caucasian Knot, and deputy editor of independent newspaper Novoye Delo, Akhmednabiyev, 51, actively reported on human rights violations against Muslims by the police and Russian army.

He had survived a previous assassination attempt in a similar manner six months earlier, in January 2013, which the authorities failed to investigate.

A year after his killing, with neither the perpetrators nor instigators behind his murder found, the investigation was suspended in July 2014.

ARTICLE 19 made a call, during the United Nations Human Rights Council session, in September 2014, for the Russian authorities to act by reopening Akhmednabiyev’s case. At the same session, HRC members, including Russia, adopted a resolution on safety of journalists and ending impunity – including a commitment to ensuring impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations, which seek to bring to justice the masterminds behind attacks.

The Dagestani branch of the Investigative Committee reopened the case in September 2014, but ARTICLE 19 believes more needs to be done. We are calling on the office for the investigation of particularly important cases involving crimes against persons and public safety, under the Central Investigative Department of the Russian Federation’s Investigative Committee to take up Akhmednabiyev’s case.

Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE19 said:

“The impact of impunity has a far reaching chilling effect on freedom of expression across the world.  Attacks against all types of journalists, human rights defenders and media workers are rarely investigated, let alone punished, and this results in self-censorship, stopping journalists criticising governments, or investigating issues such as corruption and human rights violations. 

“As well as dealing with murder, many of the cases we come across detail constant levels of harassment, threats, office break-ins and arbitrary arrests, which also have a chilling effect. 

 “The problem isn’t just the pitiful rate of successful convictions for such crimes, but also a lack of thorough and effective investigations. We are calling for Central Investigative Department of the Russian Federation’s Investigative Committee take up Akhmednabiyev’s case, to ensure the investigation is carried out as impartially, independently and effectively as possible moving forward.

“We are also calling on the Government of the Russian Federation to adopt all necessary political and legal measures to protect journalists and human rights defenders and defend the right to freedom of expression, in accordance with their international obligations.”

Notes to editors

For more information about each case, interviews etc., contact Siobhan Sheerin on siobhan@article19.org or 020 7324 2510.

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from ARTICLE 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

ARTICLE 19 is a member of IFEX (an international network of free expression organisations) which campaigned for an official UN day in recognition of the danger impunity poses to free expression worldwide. This year, on the inaugural International Day to End Impunity, IFEX is calling on states to meaningfully engage with UN mechanisms to tackle impunity by implementing the recommendations of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, and comply with the reporting requests of UNESCO’s Director-General’s Report on The Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity