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European Court of Human Rights Finds Russia Guilty Of Systematic Human Rights Violations in Crimea

By Rajesh Kumar

June 28, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has unanimously ruled against Russia, finding systematic human rights violations in Crimea since its occupation in 2014.

The court's ruling detailed a pattern of abuses perpetrated by Russian authorities in Crimea. These violations encompassed a wide range of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Convention and its protocols. The ECHR stated breaches of Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 10 (freedom of expression), and Article 11 (freedom of assembly), among others.

Key allegations brought forward by Ukraine included reports of ill-treatment, disappearances, forced citizenship changes, suppression of non-Russian media, and restrictions on religious freedoms, particularly affecting non-Russian Orthodox communities.

The court based its findings on substantial evidence provided by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and witness testimonies.

The ruling emphasized the gravity and interconnected nature of these incidents. It held that there was a clear administrative practice that contravenes international legal standards. Despite Russia's arguments regarding Crimea's integration into its legal framework, the ECHR dismissed these claims and held that such actions did not meet lawful standards under international law.

The court noted widespread reports of intimidation, harassment, and physical violence targeting individuals who opposed Russia's presence in Crimea or identified as ethnic Ukrainians or Crimean Tatars.

The ECHR highlighted concerns over the forced imposition of Russian citizenship on residents of Crimea, which contravenes the right to nationality and self-determination. This coercive measure, coupled with restrictions on freedom of movement and arbitrary searches of private property, severely curtailed the autonomy and rights of the local population.

The court also noted Russia's systematic suppression of non-Russian media outlets in Crimea, including Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar broadcasters. Moreover, the ECHR noted that Russia violated religious freedom as there were instances where members of non-Russian Orthodox communities, particularly Muslims and other minority religious groups, faced discrimination, harassment, and restrictions on practicing their faith freely.

It held that there were lack of effective investigations into these human rights abuses. It held that there is a pattern where the perpetrators enjoy impunity due to the state's failure to hold individuals accountable for their actions.

Further, under Article 46 of the Convention, the court mandated Russia to promptly facilitate the safe return of prisoners transferred from Crimea to penal facilities within Russian territory.

ECHR is an international judicial institution established under the European Convention on Human Rights which was drafted by the Council of Europe. The ECHR is headquartered in Strasbourg, France, and it oversees the enforcement of the Convention by adjudicating cases brought against member states for alleged violations of human rights.

The primary role of the ECHR is to ensure that member states uphold the rights and freedoms defined in the European Convention on Human Rights.



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