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ECHR Finds Wartime Crimes Claims Against Georgia Inadmissible

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) reported on October 21 it has found “inadmissible” two applications against Georgia for alleged human rights violations during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

The complaints were lodged by several Russian citizens, who either themselves resided in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia during the conflict or had family members affected by the armed clashes.

The applicants argued that Georgia violated the European Convention on Human Rights on several counts, namely Article 2 – right to life – as well as Articles 3, 8, 13, 14, and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. One of the cases, in addition, argued Georgia breached Article 5 – “right to liberty and security of person.”

The ECHR judges, sitting on October 5, concluded that exercise of jurisdiction is a “necessary condition” for such a ruling. It said however that “normal” exercise of jurisdiction could be limited in exceptional circumstances such as military occupation or war, “significantly reducing” a state’s responsibility under the Convention.

The country cannot be considered accountable “merely because the territory in which the hostilities took place was formally Georgian,” the Court asserted.

In the case of Bekoyeva and others against Georgia, four applicants complained that their family members – four civilians and one military personnel – were killed on 8 or 9 August 2008 as a result of the “disproportionate use of military force by the Georgian armed units.”

In another case, Shavlokhova and others against Georgia, five applicants complained, among others, that Georgia’s military actions had put their and their family members’ lives “under real and immediate danger,” caused “anxiety and fear” to them and “seriously damaged their flats.”

In its decision, the Court noted that “the Russian and Georgian armed forces resorted to massive bombing and shelling of the territories within the same period of time,” making it “impossible to track” and single out the party responsible for the applicants’ distress and suffering.

Georgia’s President Salome Zurabishvili dubbed the Court’s decision “a new judicial important victory on our path to peaceful deoccupation.”

“Georgia was once again shown on the right side of history by the ECHR,” she said in a tweet on October 21.

ECHR in January 2021 ruled on Georgia’s case against Russia, establishing that Russia was responsible for the breach of six articles of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as for failure to conduct an effective investigation into the alleged breach of the right to life, in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War.

Besides, the Court ruled that since August 12, 2008, “strong Russian presence and the South Ossetian and Abkhazian authorities’ dependency on the Russian Federation indicated that there had been continued “effective control” over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”

The Court also found that Russia exercised “effective control” over the “buffer zone” during the period from 12 August to 10 October 2008, the date of the official withdrawal of the Russian troops from those areas.

Also, the ECHR ruled that during the active phase of hostilities from 8 to 12 August 2008, Russia could not be considered as exercising “effective control”, since that control was apparently contested through military means.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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