July 16th, 2009 20:33 EST
UN Condemns Murder Of Russian Activist
UN NEWS CENTRE
16 July 2009 " Russian authorities must conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the murder of a prominent activist looking into alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya, top United Nations officials said today.
Natalia Estemirova, who worked for the Russian non-governmental organization (NGO) Memorial, was kidnapped on Wednesday near her home in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and her body was found in neighbouring Ingushetia later in the day with bullet wounds to the head and chest.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today welcomed the announcement that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a high-level investigation, urging authorities to do all they can to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted and brought to justice. "
Ms. Estemirova`s death " the latest in a series of killings or attacks against rights activists, journalists and lawyers in the country " sadly underlines once again the need for governments to do much more to protect human rights defenders, " Ms. Pillay said.
For his part, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is appalled and saddened by Ms. Estemirova`s heinous " killing, calling on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice to send a strong and unambiguous message that the targeting of human rights will not be tolerated, " according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
The Secretary-General expresses his solidarity with human rights defenders around the world who work courageously and selflessly each and every day, in defense of basic rights and freedoms, " it added.
The slain activist had worked for many years to promote human rights in the North Caucasus, having received numerous awards. Those included the Anna Politkovskaya Prize from the Nobel Women`s Initiative, which was named for the Russian journalist and outspoken human rights campaigner who was killed in 2006, with whom Ms. Estemirova had worked.
She had also worked alongside Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer who was killed after having given a press conference in Moscow on 19 January.