By: Rebecca Buchanan
Impunity Watch Staff Writer
STRASBOURG, France – On February 19, 2021, the Ukrainian Government lodged a new inter-state application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), against the Russian Federation. The application concerns the Ukrainian Government’s allegations of routine state-sponsored assassinations by the Russian Government.
Inter-state applications allow countries to lodge complaints against one another, and they make up a minority of the cases handled by the ECHR. This is the ninth inter-state application made by Ukraine against Russia. In addition to the newest application, three cases between the two nations are currently pending before the Court.
The first of the three pending cases, Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea), concerns human rights violations by the Russian Federation in Crimea from February 27, 2014, to August 26, 2015. The application alleges that the Russian Government’s conduct, during that period, violated 12 separate articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 2’s right to life and Article 3’s prohibition of inhumane treatment and torture. This application was declared partly admissible by the Grand Chamber on January 14, 2021, and a Grand Chamber judgment is expected shortly.
The second pending case, Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia, was joined by the Grand Chamber on November 27, 2020, combining three separate inter-state complaints against the Russian Federation. Notably, the joined case addresses the alleged abduction of three groups of Ukrainian children who were temporarily held in Russia from June to August 2014, and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
The third case, Ukraine v. Russia (VIII), concerns the capture of three Ukrainian Naval vessels in the Kerch Strait in November 2018. The Russian Government captured and held 24 Ukrainian sailors without communication with the Ukrainian Government. Ukraine alleges that the sailors were deprived of their liberty, were refused medical care, and were held without authority under International law. This case is currently pending before the First Section of the Court.
The Ukrainian Government’s newest inter-state complaint, registered under application no. 10691/21, alleges that Russian state-sanctioned assassination operations have targeted opponents of the Russian government within Russia and have extended into the territory of other nations. The application indicates complicity by the Russian Government in continuously covering-up and failing to investigate assassination operations. Ukraine alleges that these assassinations, and the Russian Government’s alleged complicity, violate both the procedural and substantive aspects of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
February 20, 2021, marked the 7th year anniversary of the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War in the Crimean Peninsula. In addition to the inter-state applications, 7000 individual applications remain before the ECHR regarding Russian conduct in Ukraine. These applications allege various and extensive violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by the Russian Federation and map the increase in hostilities between the two nations. Proceedings regarding the newest inter-state application are pending and the Russian Federation has yet to submit written observations on its own behalf.
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