Body Calls for 'Enhanced Monitoring'

APRussian delegation head Kosachyov speaking at the assembly on Tuesday.
STRASBOURG, France — The head of Europe's top human rights organization on Tuesday called for monitoring of both Georgia and Russia following their conflict in August to ensure they live up to promises to uphold democratic values and human rights.

Terry Davis, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, told the body's Parliamentary Assembly there was currently no support among the organization's 47 nations to punish either Russia or Georgia — both members — for going to war.

There have been calls from Georgia and its backers in the organization for Russia's membership to be suspended.

Twenty-four lawmakers in the 636-member Parliamentary Assembly have also filed a motion calling for the review of the credentials of all 18 Russian members. That could result in the suspension of their rights to vote; a vote is expected as early as Wednesday.

Davis said the assembly should back his plan for "special enhanced monitoring" to keep pressure on both Moscow and Tbilisi and ensure that they live up to their promises amid widespread allegations of ethnic cleansing, looting and indiscriminate bombing against civilians during the conflict. "To do nothing would seriously damage the credibility of this organization," he said.

Davis said some 1,700 violations had been lodged by Georgian and Russian citizens with the European Court of Human Rights in the aftermath of the conflict.

Thomas Hammarberg, the council's human rights commissioner, said human rights experts needed to be sent to Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia to investigate the allegations.

He said his recent four-day trip to Georgia showed that progress was made to release and exchange people taken into custody, but he urged Russia and Georgia to step up de-mining activities and efforts to help refugees return.

Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee and of Russia's delegation to the assembly, said Wednesday that he did not expect the body to reach any definitive evaluation of last month's conflict during this session, Interfax reported.

"I'm convinced that there will be no hurry to reach conclusions right now," Kosachyov told journalists in Strasbourg. "It is important for us to lower the fevered pitch of emotions that arose during the disinformation campaigns of the first days [of the conflict]."