WASHINGTON (Jun. 6)
The Soviet government has engaged in “systematic” and “gross” violations of human rights in a recent wave of repression aimed at political dissidents, according to a study released today by the Joint Executive Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Commission staff study examined the cases of 22 Soviet political dissidents, members of the Helsinki Monitoring Groups, who have been imprisoned or stripped of their citizenship since February, 1977. The study noted that the 21 men and one woman have been punished under a variety of criminal charges, but in fact “their crime is identical: political dissent expressed in the nonviolent, open effort to spur Soviet authorities to implement the human rights and humanitarian undertaking of the August, 1975 Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.” In prosecuting the Helsinki monitors, the report said, Soviet authorities have broken their own laws by conducting improper searches, prolonged pretrial detentions and denial of procedural rights to defendants on trial.
The report was released during hearings today in which testimony on government abuses of the Soviet legal system came from three prominent United States trial attorneys who have actively sought to defend members of the Helsinki Monitoring Groups. The three are former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams and Allen Durshowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.