Delegation of the European Union to the Council of Europe

EU Statement on the case of Yuri Dmitriev

Strasbourg, 27/05/2020 - 12:43, UNIQUE ID: 200527_3
Statements on behalf of the EU

1376th Meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (27 May 2020)

1. The European Union continues to follow closely the situation of Yuri Dmitriev, a respected historian known for his uncompromising investigation and documenting of mass graves of the victims of Soviet repression in 1937 - 38 and Chairman of the Karelia branch of Memorial Historical Society in the Russian Federation. On 23 March 2020, the Supreme Court of Karelia prolonged his pre-trial detention until 25 June 2020. On 7 May 2020, a request to have Dmitriev freed from custody because of a coronavirus outbreak in his detention facility was rejected by the Court. Yuri Dmitriev was initially arrested in December 2016 on questionable grounds. The charges brought against him, which we see as spurious and connected to his work as historian and human rights defender, have already led to his detention for over two years pending re-trial.

2. The EU reiterates its call on the Russian authorities to release Mr Dmitriev, this time with more urgency, taking into account that his deteriorating state of health and age put him at additional risk in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

3. The EU expects Russia to uphold its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including those related to the right to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial. When reconsidering the case of Yuri Dmitriev, the Russian authorities should also take into account that, as indicated by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) in its Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, concerted efforts should be made to resort to alternatives to deprivation of liberty during the pandemic. In this regard, as the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights stressed in her recent call on Council of Europe member states to safeguard the rights and health of all persons in prison during the COVID-19 pandemic, particular consideration should be given to those detainees with underlying health conditions; older persons who do not pose a threat to society; and those who have been charged or convicted for minor or non-violent offences.

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