Last week Ukraine lodged the 6th interstate application against the Russian Federation with the European Court of Human Rights, which describes practice of the systematic, large scale and illegal politically motivated persecution of the Ukrainian citizens in the territory of Russia and occupied Crimea
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, partner Media Initiative for Human Rights and Association of the relatives of the Kremlin’s political prisoners were among contributors to the complaint, through sharing evidence with the Ukraine Ministry of Justice on human rights violations committed on the grounds of political views, civil position, religion and nationality.
Hence, the Government of Ukraine claims systemic and large scale violations by the RF of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in respect of the Ukrainian citizens, namely under:
- Article 3 (prohibition of torture and degrading behavior)
- Article 5 (personal freedom)
- Article 6 (fair trial)
- Article 8 (respect for personal and family life)
- Article 10 (freedom of expression)
- Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)
- Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights)
An application on 130 pages (accompanied by around 3,000 pages of additions) provides solid evidences as regard 71 individuals persecuted both in the territory of Crimea and the Russian Federation. It contains facts as regard the following categories of Ukrainians being subject to political persecutions:
- in Crimea – EuroMaidan activists, Crimean Tatar people, so-called “Ukrainian saboteurs”, people sentenced for expressing pro-Ukrainian views on Internet;
- in the RF – so-called “Crimean four” case (civic activists Sentsov, Kolchenko, Afansiev and Chirniy), “Chechen case” (Klikh and Karpyuk accused of crimes committed in Russia’s Chechnya 20 years ago), members of “Right Sector” far-right Ukrainian nationalist movement; people accused of espionage, terrorism, violation of customary law.
Also, Ukraine sent request for the interim measures pursuant to the Rule 39 of the Court (which applied only in urgent cases where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm) in terms of political prisoners Klykh, Balukh, Kuku and Lytvynov in order to secure provision of proper medical support and information on the state of their health.
UHHRU expects that this interstate complaint will strengthen the position of individual applicants in the lawsuits already filled/and to be filed before the European Court of Human Rights.
It is also important that the Justice Ministry in cooperation with the Crimean prosecutor’s office and human rights groups will keep on gathering facts of human rights abuses concerning other victims to supplement the current application. Besides, Ukraine plans to turn to its international partners with a proposal to create a sanction list of those Russians nationals guilty of violating the rights of the political prisoners (the Ukrainian analogue of the 2012 Magnitsky Act). It is noteworthy that Ukrainian MPs several times tried to introduce such legislation (like the draft law No 7439 as of December 22, 2017), but to no avail to date.
Among other important immediate measures that should be taken by the government to ensure comprehensive protection of the political prisoners’ rights is adoption of the legislation providing for necessary assistance and social guarantees for them and their families, compensation for legal aid delivery etc. It might be based on USAID-supported draft law “On the legal status of certain categories of protected persons deprived of their liberty in connection with international armed conflict” co-developed by UHHRU and Media Initiative for Human Rights and already shared with the relevant state agencies.
Thus far, Ukraine has lodged six applications with the European Court of Human Rights against Russia for the violation of human rights amid armed conflict and occupation:
- two applications on the violation of human rights in Kremlin-occupied Crimea;
- two related to the violation of human rights in Russia-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine;
- application on alleged abduction of three groups of orphan children in eastern Ukraine and their temporary transfer to the RF on three occasions between June and August 2014;
- application on politically motivated persecution of Ukrainian citizens by Kremlin.
However, in late June 2018 the European Court decided to unite four ‘Ukraine vs Russia’ inter-state cases into two large proceedings concerning Crimea and Donbas, while an application on illegal transfer of orphans from Donbas to the RF remained in a separate proceeding. In late May 2018, the ECtHR has relinquished jurisdiction over these four cases in favor of its Grand Chamber, which deals with applications raising serious questions affecting the Convention’s interpretation/ application or serious issues of general importance.