Memorial Human Rights Centre and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre: 101 cases won at the European Court of Human Rights

posted 3 Feb 2015, 14:33 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 3 Feb 2015, 14:40 ]
29 January 2015

Source: (info)

[Based on an original text published by Memorial Human Rights Centre (in Russian) and by European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (in English)] 

Since the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) began collaborating in 2000, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has issued 87 positive judgments on 101 applications filed by the organizations' lawyers. The difference between these figures is due to the fact that in some cases, the Court issues a single judgment covering several applications.

In each of these cases, at least one violation of the European Convention on Human Rights was found. These include Articles 2 (right to life); 3 (prohibition of torture and ill-treatment); 5 (right to liberty and security); 6 (right to a fair trial); 8 (right to respect for private and family life); 13 (right to an effective remedy); 14 (prohibition of discrimination); Article 1 of Protocol 1 (protection of property); and Article 4 of Protocol 7 (right not to be tried or punished twice).

In two cases out-of-court agreements were reached with the Russian authorities.

Sixty-one judgments were handed down covering 51 applications by residents of Chechnya asserting violations by security forces during armed conflict and counter-terrorism operations. Of these, 22 decrees addressed the murder of citizens, and 29 concerned abductions. Similar violations were found in the applications from other republics in the North Caucasus: 6 in Ingushetia, 2 in Dagestan, 1 in North Ossetia and 1 in Kabardino-Balkaria.

Nine judgments were issued on extradition cases. In most of these, the violation lay in the Russian authorities’ decision to extradite applicants to countries where they may be tortured. The second typical violation was of the applicant’s right to liberty and security during detention pending extradition. In some cases the right to private and family life was violated.

In 2 extradition cases out-of-court agreements were successfully reached with the Russian authorities.

Two judgments were handed down concerning 5 applications by residents of Cherepovets who asserted that their health had been harmed as a result of the poor environmental situation caused by the activities of Severstal, an industrial company.

Fifteen judgments on the violation of one of more rights were issued in relation to applications by residents of other Russian regions.

Following the ECtHR judgments, applicants not only received compensation, but a number of decisions by the authorities which had resulted in the violations were also annulled. For example, in some cases the decision to suspend investigations into killings, torture and kidnappings was lifted. Decisions to extradite applicants were reversed. In one case, a conviction was quashed that had been handed down in breach of the right to a fair trial.

Individual elements of ECtHR practice in the Chechen cases have been used in the courts of the republic when considering similar cases. For example, applicants can achieve access to the materials of criminal trials.

However, judgments by the ECtHR do not always lead to the full restoration of the applicants’ rights. Often a new investigation into the violations and a new trial suffer from the same shortcomings as those already established by the ECtHR.

Following the abolition of unlawful extradition decisions, there have been cases where applicants nonetheless found themselves in the countries seeking their extradition. And the circumstances most probably indicate that people were secretly detained by the Russian security forces and handed over to colleagues in other states.

There are cases where the authorities and applicants interpret the obligation of the state to comply with the ECtHR differently. For example, in the cases of environmental violations in Cherepovets the authorities believe that they have fulfilled their obligations by installing new equipment at the company to reduce harmful emissions, while the applicants consider these measures insufficient for the improvement of the environmental situation in the city.

Memorial Human Rights Centre and EHRAC continue to work to secure the implementation of ECtHR decisions. The human rights defenders point out that they appeal to various authorities on both national and international levels (control over the execution of ECtHR judgements is the responsibility of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe).