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ECHR rules Russia violated Georgia citizens’ humans rights following 2008 conflict – JURIST

Apr 10, 2024 | Legal News | 0 comments

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday that Russia’s occupation and border enforcement of two regions in Georgia systematically violated Georgians’ human rights.

The ECHR found that Russia violated multiple sections of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life under Article two, the prohibition of torture under Article three, the right to liberty under Article five, and the right to respect for one’s private and family life under Article eight. The court also held that Russia violated various convention protocols, including the right to freedom of movement, the right to property, and the right to education.

Georgia initially brought its case against Russia in August 2018, exactly ten years after Russia invaded and began occupying the two Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia also established military bases in those areas and established border guards to secure an administrative boundary line (ABL) around the regions.

The Georgian government claimed that the pattern of harassing, unlawfully arresting and detaining, and torturing Georgians trying to cross the boundary lines led to a “systematic pattern” of human rights violations. The ECHR agreed, finding sufficient evidence to show the incidents were not isolated and constituted a system of repeated abuses. The court, upon reviewing victim lists, testimonies, and media reports, found that the incidents were “sufficiently numerous and interconnected” to amount to an “administrative practice,” or a pattern of acts that violate the convention and were officially tolerated by Russia.

The process of “borderization” blocked free travel across the ABL, enacting a heavy toll on those living along the boundary lines. A report by Amnesty International documented the impact of borderization on local villagers, highlighting the displacement and division of ethnic Georgians along the boundary lines. The human rights organization called the borderization process “one of the most painful legacies” of the 2008 conflict, noting that villagers have lost access to farmland, water sources, relatives, and sources of income as a result of their inability to freely travel across the imposed border lines.

The decision comes one year after the ECHR ordered Russia to pay $134 million to Georgia in compensation for the 2008 conflict, finding Russia subjected ethnic Georgians to “inhuman and degrading treatment” and specifically targeted them as an ethnic group. The court last year also held Russia responsible for Abkhazian authorities’ human rights violations against two Georgian men.

Georgian Minister of Justice Rati Bregadze celebrated the court’s decision, stating the ruling “underscored Georgia’s territorial integrity and the unlawfulness of the borderization process.” Bregadze also said the judgment was an important step toward the ultimate goal of achieving the “complete de-occupation” of Georgia.

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