On January 21, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) published its decision in the case "Georgia v. Russia (II)" on the 2008 war, where it found the Russian Federation responsible for human rights violations during this conflict.
“The most important day in the modern history of Georgia! Litigation - Georgia against Russia ended in the European Court of Human Rights with Georgia's victory! This is a common victory! " - This is how Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia commented on the decision of the ECHR.
Let us consider in more detail the decision of the ECHR.
It should be reminded that in Georgia's suit against Russia, Tbilisi characterized Moscow's actions in 2008 as violating Article 33 (interstate cases) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Georgia accused the Russian Federation of allowing or leading to the existence of administrative practices through indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians and their property on Georgian territory by the Russian army and/or separatist forces under its control - the Russian Federation allowed or led to the existence of administrative practices, which led to a violation Articles of the Convention:
• 2 - the right to life;
• 3 - prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment;
• 5 - the right to freedom and security;
• 8 - the right to respect for private and family life;
• 13 - the right to an effective remedy.
As well as Articles 1 (protection of property) and 2 (right to education) of Protocol No. 1 and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement).
The claim was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 11 August 2008 and declared partially admissible on 13 December 2011. The court heard the testimony of witnesses and the position of experts during the hearing held in Strasbourg from 6 to 17 June 2016. The meeting itself took place on May 23, 2018.
• By 11 votes to 6 - that the events of August 8-12, 2008 do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation;
• 16 votes to 1 - that the events that took place after the cessation of hostilities fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation;
• By 16 votes to 1, that there had been administrative practice contrary to Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1;
• unanimously - that the Georgian civilians detained by South Ossetian troops in Tskhinvali from about 10 to 27 August 2008 fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation under Article 1;
• Unanimously - that there were administrative practices contrary to Article 3 regarding the conditions of detention of some 160 Georgian civilians and degrading acts that caused them suffering and should have been considered inhuman and degrading treatment;
• unanimously - that there was an administrative practice contrary to Article 5 regarding the arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians in August 2008;
• unanimously - that the Georgian prisoners of war, detained in Tskhinvali from 8 to 17 August 2008 by the South Ossetian forces, fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation under Article 1;
• 16 votes to 1 - that there was an administrative practice contrary to Article 3 in relation to acts of torture, the victims of which were Georgian prisoners of war;
• 16 votes to 1 - that the citizens of Georgia, who were forbidden to return to South Ossetia or Abkhazia, fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation;
• by 16 votes 1 - that there was an administrative practice contrary to Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 regarding the inability of Georgian citizens to return to their homes;
• unanimously - that there has been no violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1;
• unanimously - that the Russian Federation had a procedural obligation under Article 2 of the Convention to conduct an adequate and effective investigation not only of the events that occurred after the cessation of hostilities (after the Ceasefire Agreement of 12 August 2008), but also the events that occurred during the active phase of hostilities (August 8-12, 2008);
• By 16 votes to 1, there has been a violation of Article 2 in its procedural aspect;
• unanimously - that there is no need to separately examine the applicant State's complaint about a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with other Articles;
• By 16 votes to 1, that the respondent State failed to fulfill its obligations under article 38;
• unanimously - that the question of the application of Article 41 of the Convention is not ready for decision and therefore should be postponed in full.
The court ruled that it is necessary to separate the events that occurred during the active phase of hostilities (from 8 to 12 August 2008) and the events that followed the ceasefire.
Thus, as the Ministry of Justice of Georgia emphasizes, the court found that Russia had violated several articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
“Recognition of a number of violations by the Grand Chamber of the Court confirms that Russia carried out ethnic cleansing of Georgians during the August 2008 war. This historic decision is for Georgia the most important lever for resolving conflicts and restoring its territorial integrity using international legal mechanisms, ”the Strasbourg Court’s decision was commented on in a statement by the Georgian Ministry of Justice.
Also, according to the official statement of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia:
“The Strasbourg court shared Georgia’s position and recognized Russia's responsibility for torture, inhuman and degrading treatment of Georgian prisoners of war and civilians.
The Strasbourg court shared Georgia's position and recognized Russia's responsibility for violating the rights to freedom and safety of civilians.
The court shared Georgia's position and established Russia's responsibility for refusing to investigate the killings of Georgian citizens during the war and for a number of other violations.
This historic decision is an important lever for resolving conflicts and restoring the territorial integrity of Georgia using international legal mechanisms, ”the Ministry of Justice said in a statement.
At the same time, Russian propaganda “clung like a straw” to the decision of the ECHR that “the events of August 8-12, 2008 do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation” and “fantasized” it:
“Based on the results of almost 12 years of consideration of the case, the ECHR came to the conclusion that the Russian Federation cannot be held accountable under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for incidents that occurred during the repulsion of the Georgian army's attack on the peacekeeping contingent and the local civilian population by the Russian military in the period from 8 to 12 August 2008, ”the Russian Ministry of Justice said, although there is not a word about the mythical“ attack of the Georgian army on the peacekeepers ”and“ civilian population ”in the ECHR decision.
Of course, Kremlin propaganda does not say that during the war in Georgia, Russia bombed Georgian cities, military bases, and civilian infrastructure, and also used its naval forces. During the war, 408 Georgian citizens were killed, of which 170 were servicemen, 14 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and 228 civilians. The number of wounded and injured amounted to 2,232, including 1,045 military personnel (i.e., here, too, most of the victims are civilians). But for some reason, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation does not recognize that the Russian army, in fact, killed and maimed the civilian population.
Nevertheless, the attempts of Russian propaganda do not change the essence of the ECHR decision. Georgia has completely won in court and proved that the truth is on its side. And this gives hope that the time is getting closer when justice will be restored, the captured Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region will be liberated and reunited with Georgia and the refugees will return to their homes.