The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said today that Russia is responsible for violating six articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as failing to conduct an effective investigation into alleged violations of the right to life after the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008.
The judgment of the Strasbourg-based court in the intergovernmental complaint filed by Georgia against Russia also stated that events following the August 12, 2008 Armistice Agreement, which ended the active phase of the war, fell under Russian jurisdiction over the United States for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights .
The Court found that since August 12, 2008, “a strong Russian presence and the dependence of the South Ossetian and Abkhaz authorities on the Russian Federation indicate that” effective control “over South Ossetia and Abkhazia has continued”.
The ECHR also stated that Russia exercised “effective control” over the “buffer zone” from August 12 to October 10, 2008, the date of the official withdrawal of Russian troops from these areas.
However, the Court found that during the active phase of the hostilities from August 8-12, 2008, Russia could not be considered an “effective control” as that control was apparently challenged by military means. It has therefore declared inadmissible part of the Georgian motion alleging that Russia was legally responsible for the actions committed on August 8 and 12.
The ECHR has also identified and ruled numerous violations of the Convention by Russia:
- at sixteen against onethat there was an administrative practice contrary to Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the Convention, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture and respect for private and family life, and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention Convention on the Protection of Property.
- unanimously that the Georgian civilians arrested by the Ossetian armed forces in Tskhinvali between August 10 and 27, 2008, fell under Russian jurisdiction within the meaning of Article 1 and that there has been a violation of Article 3, the prohibition of torture, in relation to the The conditions of detention of around 160 Georgian civilians and the humiliating acts that caused them to suffer and which had to be viewed as inhuman and degrading treatment. “
- unanimously There was an administrative practice in breach of Article 5, which included the right to freedom and security in relation to the arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians in August 2008.
- unanimouslythat the Georgian prisoners of war detained by the South Ossetian Armed Forces in Tskhinvali between August 8 and 17, 2008, had fallen under Russian legal responsibility for the purposes of the Convention; and at sixteen that there was an administrative practice in violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) regarding the torture perpetrated against the Georgian prisoners of war.
- with sixteen votes to one, Preventing the return of Georgian nationals to S. Ossetia or Abkhazia was a matter for Russia. and at sixteen to one that there was an administrative practice contrary to Article 2 of Protocol No. 4, Free Movement of Persons, and linked to the inability of Georgian nationals to return to their homeland;
- unanimously Russia is procedurally obliged under Article 2 to conduct “an appropriate and effective investigation” not only of events that occurred after the end of the hostilities (after the ceasefire of August 12, 2008), but also of events during the active phase of the hostilities (August 8-12, 2008);
- and with sixteen votes to 1, that there has been a breach of Article 2 in its procedural aspect in this regard, which means the breach of the obligation to conduct an effective investigation into alleged breaches of the substantive part of the Article.
- at sixteen against 1, that Russia has failed to fulfill its obligations under Article 38 by not investigating the case.
- unanimouslythat the question on Article 41, which only concerns satisfaction, “was not ready to be decided and should therefore be reserved entirely”.
The court decision
Regarding the killing of civilians and the flaring and looting
With regard to houses in Georgian villages in the Tskhinvali region / South Ossetia and in the “buffer zone”, the court found that although Russian troops had intervened to prevent abuses against civilians, in many cases “Russian troops were passively present during looting scenes “. committed by the South Ossetian armed forces.
“Despite orders from the Russian armed forces to protect the population and carry out peacekeeping and law enforcement operations on the ground, the measures taken by the Russian authorities had proven insufficient to prevent the alleged violations,” noted the ECHR, adding that “This could be viewed by the Russian authorities as an “official tolerance”, as evidenced by the fact that the latter had not carried out effective investigations into the alleged violations. “
The Court held Russia responsible for the post-conflict detention of 160 Georgian civilians, stating that while the direct involvement of the Russian armed forces had not been clearly established, the fact that Georgian civilians fell under Russian jurisdiction also meant it was responsible for the actions of S. Ossetian’s authorities.
The Court added that the conditions of the detention of Georgian civilians and “the humiliating acts to which they were subjected caused them undeniable suffering [..] had to be viewed as inhuman and degrading treatment. “
With regard to prisoners of war, it turned out that the direct involvement of the Russian armed forces had not been clearly established in all cases. However, the fact that the prisoners of war fell under Russian jurisdiction meant that the latter were also responsible for the actions of the South Ossetian armed forces.
“Even though they were there, the Russian armed forces had not intervened to prevent the treatment complained of,” the court said.
We also underlined that “the de facto South Ossetian and Abkhazian authorities, as well as the Russian Federation, which had effective control over these regions, were obliged under the Convention to allow residents of Georgian origin to return to their respective homes”.
Georgia appealed the ECHR on August 11, 2008, the day before the EU-brokered six-point ceasefire agreement with Russia was signed. The formal intergovernmental motion was filed in February 2009 alleging that Russian military and / or separatist forces under their control carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians and their property in various parts of Georgia, including the now occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali .
Georgia asserts Russia has violated eight articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concern the right to life, the prohibition of torture, the right to freedom and security, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to an effective remedy and the protection of property . and the right to education and freedom of movement.
For its part, Russia rejected the allegations as unfounded and not corroborated by “admissible evidence”, claiming that its armed forces did not attack civilians in the Tskhinvali region and instead defended them against the Georgian offensive. ECHR explained The motion, admissible in December 2011, hands the case over to the Grand Chamber, which consists of 17 judges.
Seven ECHR judges completed Hearing 33 testimony in the intergovernmental case in June 2016. Of the witnesses, the Court called six directly, 16 by the Georgian government and 11 by the Russian government.
In the final stage before the judgment, Grand Chamber of the ECHR completed the oral hearing of the application in May 2018.
This was the second interstate case of a total of three against Russia before the Strasbourg-based court. Georgia won The first time in 2014, when the ECHR ruled that the arrest, detention and collective eviction of Georgians from Russia in 2006 was against the convention. In a follow-up decision In 2019, the court ruled that Russia must pay EUR 10 million in compensation for damage related to the mass deportation.
Georgia inserted his third complaint against Russia in 2018 about the death of Georgian national Archil Tatunashvili by Kremlin-backed authorities in Tskhinvali.
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