ARTICLE 19 welcomes the Russian authorities’ decision to reopen the investigation into the murder of Dagestani journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev. The investigation, launched after the journalist’s shooting in July 2013, was suspended in the summer of 2014. Local authorities failed to identify the perpetrators or instigators, effectively ensuring impunity for his killing.
Akhmednabiyev, a reporter for online news site Caucasian Knot and deputy editor of independent newspaper Novoye Delo, was shot and killed on 9 July 2013 as he left for work in Makhachkala, Dagestan. The journalist was getting into his car when a gunman shot him from a passing vehicle, killing him instantly. The gunman fled the scene.
In July 2014, with little progress having been made, the investigation was suspended. This sets a terrible precedent for future investigations into attacks on journalists in Russia.
Two weeks ago, at the September 2014 session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), ARTICLE 19 called upon the Russian federal authorities to reopen the investigation. It also called for Russia to support a UN resolution to end impunity for attacks against journalists.
The resolution was adopted by consensus by the UNHRC on 26 September 2014. States are now required to take a number of measures aimed at ending impunity for violence against journalists, including:
- Ensuring impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations, which seek to bring to justice the masterminds behind attacks
- Ensuring victims and their families have access to appropriate remedies
- Creating special investigative units and specialist prosecutors
- Adopting specific protocols and methods of investigation and prosecution
- Training key actors in investigative and prosecutorial processes
- Establishing protection mechanisms, including early warning and rapid response systems.
ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Russian authorities to fully and swiftly implement the measures outlined in the resolution.
ARTICLE 19 also calls on the Russian authorities to continue their investigation into Akhmednabiyev’s murder in an impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective manner. Doing this, and ensuring that both perpetrators and instigators are brought to justice, will help avoid impunity in this case.
Akhmednabiyev actively reported on human rights violations against Muslims by the police and the Russian army. He received numerous threats and his name had been included in a 2009 ‘death list’ calling for the execution of several independent Dagestani journalists.
The journalist had survived a previous assassination attempt six months earlier. The 11 January 2013 incident took place in the same circumstances and location as his subsequent murder. The attempt was wrongly logged by the police as property damage, and was only reclassified after the journalist’s death. This shows the authorities’ failure to investigate the motive behind the attack and prevent further attacks, despite Akhmednabiyev having requested protection.
Akhmednabiyev’s case was profiled in the ARTICLE 19 report The Russian Federation: Journalists under Attack published in December 2013. It also features in ARTICLE 19’s recently released film Journalist under Attack (available in Russian with English subtitles).