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Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association submits written argument to the European Court of Human Rights

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, August 9
The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), in partnership with the European Center for Human Rights (EHRAC), has submitted a written argument to the European Court of Human Rights regarding the case of Giga Otkhozoria.

Giga Otkhozoria was killed by an Abkhaz “border guard,” Rashid Khanji-Oghli on May 19, 2016, on the Georgian controlled territory, adjacent to the administrative boundary line between Georgia and the Abkhazian region.

As stated in the letter, Otkhozoria’s family members appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on January 11, 2018, regarding his murder.

The applicants alleged Abkhaz border guard in the illegal use of force as a result of which Giga Otkhozoria’s life was taken away and in the ineffectiveness of the investigation of the dispute. Accordingly, the applicants announced that the material and procedural parts of the right to life considered by Article 2 of the European Convention have been violated.

The European Court of Human Rights began a substantive hearing on the case of Giga Otkhozoria’s murder last year, on November 8 and directed the questions regarding the murder case to the respondent state, Russian Federation.

In its written argument submitted to the European Court, the Russian Federation refers to Abkhazia as a sovereign state that has escaped Georgia’s aggression and becomes an independent state through self-determination. The Russian Federation declares that its jurisdiction does not extend to the territory of Abkhazia, it does not exercise effective control or influence over the “Republic of Abkhazia,” so it is deprived of the opportunity to protect the rights under the European Convention on the territory of Abkhazia.

According to the letter, contrary to Russia’s written arguments, both in the complaint and in the subsequent written arguments, GYLA and EHRAC cited numerous pieces of evidence corroborating Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and effective control of the occupied territory.

“Consequently, the Russian Federation is responsible for human rights abuses on the territory of the de facto republic of Abkhazia and acts committed by de facto authorities of Abkhazia,” reads the argument.

It is noteworthy that the European Court of Human Rights granted the applicants’ motion and ordered the Russian Federation to submit copies of all the investigative materials obtained during the investigation into the murder of Otkhozoria. Despite this, the Russian Federation has not fulfilled this obligation. In its written argument submitted to the European Court, GYLA further states that the Russian Federation’s failure to refer the case to the European Court violates Article 38 of the Convention.

The applicants, in accordance with Article 46 of the European Convention, also request the European Court to indicate to the Russian Federation the specific measures that are needed to investigate Otkhozoria’s murder and punish the perpetrators effectively. Given that the Russian Federation does not comply with the European Convention under Article 2 of the obligation to carry out an effective investigation, the applicants solicit the Court to instruct the Russian Federation to hand over Rashid Khanji-Oghhli to the government of Georgia to enforce the inculpatory verdict of Kutaisi’s Court of Appeal.

As assessed by GYLA, the European Court of Human Rights must consider to what degree the Russian Federation exercises effective control over the territory of Abkhazia and to what extent it is responsible for the actions of the de facto authorities of Abkhazia.