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European Court of Human Rights Finds Multiple Violations in Georgia v. Russia Case

By Liza Mchedlidze
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
In a recent Chamber judgment, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously in the case of Georgia v. Russia (IV) (application no. 39611/18), identifying violations of various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The violations include breaches of the right to life, prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, right to liberty and security, right to respect for private and family life, as well as protocols concerning protection of property, right to education, and freedom of movement.

The background to the case stems from the armed conflict between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, which initiated a process known as 'borderisation'. This process, which started in 2009, resulted in administrative boundary lines between Georgian-controlled territory and the Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Described as one of the most painful legacies of the conflict, borderisation restricted the movement of people, separated families, and disrupted access to education and property.

The Georgian Government claimed various human rights abuses, including killings, arrests, detentions, and ill-treatment of individuals attempting to cross these administrative boundary lines. Additionally, they cited instances of land deprivation, family separation, and educational challenges, all attributed to the borderisation process.

The Court examined extensive evidence, including victim lists, testimonies, media reports, and international material. It concluded that the incidents were not isolated but formed a pattern or system of violations. Furthermore, the lack of effective investigations and the general application of measures indicated official tolerance by Russian authorities.

While Russia had the opportunity to present written observations, it failed to dispute the allegations adequately. The Court found numerous instances of human rights violations, including deaths, ill-treatment, arrests, and restrictions on freedom of movement and education.

This judgment adds to a series of applications between Georgia and Russia before the Court, reflecting ongoing tensions and unresolved issues stemming from the 2008 conflict and subsequent developments. It underscores the importance of upholding human rights standards in conflict-affected regions and the need for accountability for violations.