A Country on the Verge: The Case for Supporting Georgia
Georgia won the second interstate lawsuit against Russia following the results of the August 2008 war
The decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) makes the demands of the international community against Russia regarding the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia by this country even more weighty. This is how the United States Embassy in Tbilisi commented on the decision of the ECHR in the case “Georgia v. Russian Federation” concerning the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. According to American diplomats, Russia’s attempts to control and use the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia through borderisation, arbitrary detentions, restrictions on movement and the execution of socio-economic and military “agreements” with these separatist regions of Georgia are alarming and unacceptable..
“The court unequivocally ruled the case in favor of Georgia and established Russia’s responsibility for violating many articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the detention and torture of individuals, and depriving Georgian citizens of the right to return to their homes. The court also ruled that the Russian government did not conduct a full and adequate investigation of the events that occurred during and after the hostilities, ”the embassy said in a statement..
The ECtHR decision of January 21 states that, having considered the case “Georgia v. Russian Federation”, the court found that after the hostilities in 2008, Russia violated six articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Thus, the ECHR found Russia responsible for violations of the following articles: the right to life (article 2); the prohibition of torture and punishment, inhuman or degrading treatment (art. 3); the right to liberty and security (art. 5); the right to protection of private and family life (art. 8); protection of property (article 1 of the first additional protocol); freedom of movement (Article 2 of Protocol No. 4).
These violations extend to the events following the ceasefire on 12 August 2008. By eleven votes to six, the judges of the ECHR ruled that the events that took place from 8 to 12 August 2008 did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.
It is noteworthy that this is the only accusation of Georgia against Russia in this case, with which the ECHR did not agree..
This part of the Court’s verdict published on January 21, the Russian Ministry of Justice decided to call “Russia’s victory in the ECHR.” The Russian statement says that the court “found the accusations of Georgia against Russia about the events of August 8-12, 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia unfounded.” At the same time, the Russian ministry was forced to declare disagreement with the conclusions of the ECHR regarding the responsibility of the Russian side “for incidents” that took place after August 12.
What Russia is “not responsible for”?
Commenting on Georgia’s only accusation, which was not confirmed by the ECHR, concerning Russia’s responsibility for the events of August 8-12, 2008, Tinatin Burjaliani, co-author of the interstate lawsuit and former Deputy Minister of Justice, noted that the Court had not ruled on Russia’s responsibility on these specific days. , as he considered that it was impossible to talk about “effective control” over the territory during the active phase of hostilities.
“According to the Convention, effective control of the territory is the basis for the Court to establish responsibility for the Court. This is especially important in the case of extraterritorial jurisdiction, such as Russia’s responsibility for the de jure territory of Georgia. The court stated that just at that time (8-12 August 2008) there was a struggle to establish control over this territory. The court also ruled that during the war Russia was subject to the obligations of international humanitarian law, and, accordingly, it was obliged to investigate the charges brought against it regarding violation of the right to life in the course of hostilities, ”Burjaliani told reporters.
The co-author of the lawsuit believes that Georgia “has achieved its intended legal goal.” According to her, the ECHR confirmed Russia’s occupation of Georgian territories, as well as Russia’s responsibility for expelling Georgians and depriving them of the right to return to their homes, for torturing Georgian prisoners of war, inhumane treatment of citizens, violation of their right to life. Moreover, Burjaliani says, the Court ruled that all violations were carried out as “administrative practice”, that is, they are the result of a targeted policy, and not isolated, isolated incidents.
Legal disputes between Georgia and Russia
This is the second interstate lawsuit against Russia that Georgia won at the ECHR. Georgia won the first case against the Russian Federation in 2014 in the case of the mass deportation of Georgians in 2006, which happened after the arrest of four Russian officers by Georgian law enforcement officers on charges of espionage. Georgia submitted an interstate claim to the ECHR on March 26, 2007. On July 3, 2014, the court ruled that Russia had violated a number of articles of the European Convention in relation to Georgian citizens, including Art. 3 – prohibition of torture, art. 5 – the right to liberty and security of person, art. 8 – the right to respect for private and family life, art. 13 – the right to an effective remedy, and Art. 14 – prohibition of discrimination.
Another case concerning the Russian-Georgian war is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Unlike the ECHR, which defines the responsibility of the state, the jurisdiction of the ICC includes the prosecution of specific individuals responsible for committing international crimes..