HRWF Open Letter to the Minister of Justice
December 15, 2021 No. 1356/12/21
To the Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Crna Gora
Mr. Sergej Sekulivic
Copy: The First Secretary of the Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Crna Gora, Boris Maric
Concerns: The extradition case of Georgii Rossi to the Russian Federation
Dear Mr Minister,
Montenegro is a candidate to the European Union membership. Today, the EU heads of states are meeting in Brussels to talk about issues concerning the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. On this occasion, I published yesterday an article about Montenegro’s extradition practices in The European Times.
My name is Willy Fautré; I am an international human rights defender and investigative journalist from Brussels. I am the head of the NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers (Brussels). I have examined the extradition case of Georgii Rossi from Montenegro to the Russian Federation. On 18.11.2021, I had a face to face conversation with him in prison in Podgorica. On 22.11.2021, I interviewed State Secretary Boris Maric about the extradition procedures in Montenegro after I was informed verbally that Mr. Sergei Sekulovich was not ready to meet me due to his tight schedule.
During the interview, Mr. Maric assured me that when Montenegro decides on extradition cases, it is guided by the European Convention on Extradition, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and The Law on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of Montenegro. Also, he noted that in the context of European integration, Montenegro adheres to the trajectory practiced by Strasbourg.
I have presented my views on the issue of extradition from Montenegro to Russia in my article published yesterday (15 December) in the European Times: https://www.europeantimes.news/2021/12/is-montenegro-really-abiding-by-eu-standards-in-extradition-cases/
With this letter, I am approaching you as a European human rights defender concerning the following.
It is known to me that the Supreme Court of Podgorica has approved the extradition of Georgii Rossi. This fact is a serious concern to us; I kindly ask you to pay attention to the following while considering his case:
According to Article 11 of The Law on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of Montenegro referred to by the Supreme Court of Podgorica in the decision it has delivered, one of the conditions for extradition upon request of the requesting State is that the requesting party must provide facts and evidence that there is a reasonable suspicion that the individual, whose extradition is requested, has committed a criminal offense. The same information is indicated in the European Convention on Extradition.
I have good knowledge of the fact that the documents provided to Montenegro by the authorities of the Russian Federation do not contain any specific location, time, or method of committing the alleged crime attributed to Georgii Rossi, which is a flagrant violation of the norms of the European Convention on Extradition and the Montenegrin Law on international legal assistance as well. All the details are set out in the appeal case of Georgii Rossi.
These facts indicate that the accusation of Georgii Rossi in the Russian Federation has been fabricated, and his extradition to such an undemocratic country on such grounds could be a reason to consider Montenegro a state that is not yet ready to adhere and defend European values in terms of respect for the rule of law and human rights. I am not questioning the competence of Montenegrin courts. I assume that, perhaps, while considering the case of Georgii Rossi, judges did not pay enough attention to the documents provided by the Russian side.
Among other matters, I have some expertise in extradition cases, especially concerning the requesting party, the Russian Federation, a country the human rights of which I have been monitoring for decades. Personally, I consider this country a “standard” of the undemocratic and totalitarian state, primarily after the recent publication of video recordings of tortures in Russian prisons denouncing the rape of prisoners and other forms of humiliation of their human dignity. These videos have been published by Deutsche Welle, France 24, BBC, and Reuters, among others. These facts came to light in early October 2021 and are known by many European human rights NGOs. This state of affairs in Russian prisons is dangerous, particularly for people who suffer from complex disorders; in such conditions, they are subjected to torture and deprived of medical care.
I am aware thаt Georgii Rossi is unwell as he has cancer (melanoma). This disease caught him before his imprisonment in Montenegro. He completed a treatment course but has to continue it. In a Russian prison, Georgii’s fate is easy to guess: he will die there (people are not only denied medical treatment but also tortured in those prisons). Thus, his extradition to the Russian Federation is equivalent to his murder. As a European human rights defender, I ask you to pay attention to these facts I have presented and take them into account.