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European assembly honours Russian anti-torture group

The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe said Monday it will award its 2011 Human Rights Prize to a Russian anti-torture group for helping to bring perpetrators of the practice to book.

The Komitet Protiv Pytok (Committee Against Torture), is recognised for its “key role in assisting victims of serious human rights abuses” and its “effective independent investigations”, especially in the Chechen Republic, the Strasbourg-based body said.

“By ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice, the committee has contributed to the reinforcement of the rule of law and has made an important contribution to the fight against impunity,” it said in a statement.

The biennial prize of 10,000 euros (about $14,000), in recognition of civil society actions in defence of human rights in Europe, will be awarded at a sitting of the assembly in June.

The prize was first given in 2009 to British Irish Rights Watch, a non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights violations in Northern Ireland.

The jury for 2011 included former Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan and Marek Antoni Nowicki, a former mediator in Kosovo, the statement said.