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28 March 2007

The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions issued the following statement today:

“Murders are always tragic, but when journalists are being murdered to cover up human rights abuses, the stakes for the society are even higher than usual,” says Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“The Government of Russia must bring to an end what appears to be a consistent pattern of failing to prosecute those responsible for these murders and of failing to take the measures required to prevent furthers assassinations of journalists,” according to Alston.

A report released by Alston yesterday deals with several allegations he has received regarding the Russian Federation, including that it has done little as a mounting number of journalists have been killed. His report deals with the killings of 13 journalists since the year 2000 because of their reporting activities. Many of these cases appear to share common elements. In particular, a majority of the victims are reported to have been shot or hit at point-blank range by unidentified gunmen in contract style murders. All journalists appear to have been targeted because of their attempts to investigate allegations of corruption or of human rights abuses in the Chechen conflict. According to the information that Alston has received the investigations into these killings have been inconclusive and the perpetrators have not been found.

Alston requested that the Government provide him with detailed information on the results of any investigations and prosecutions that had been undertaken. Alston noted his appreciation for the Government’s “cooperative but incomplete response” and requested that he continue to be informed of the results of all ongoing investigations and pending criminal proceedings.

“The international community must watch the situation of journalists in Russia very carefully,” says Alston. “It is of critical importance to a whole range of human rights that journalists can do their work without risking violent death.”

Alston presented his findings to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, March 27.


Philip Alston was appointed as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 13 July 2004. In 2006, the Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the Human Rights Council, and Alston now reports to the Council.
For further information on the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, see:


The report that Alston presented to the Human Rights Council on March 27 is UN Doc. No. A/HRC/4/20, and communications with governments are included in A/HRC/4/20/Add.1.

For use of the information media; not an official record