Human rights litigation

“Perhaps no one will understand how difficult it was for me without my parents, without my sister and brothers. That is why the support of other people, even just words of support, has been so valuable. I’ve been incredibly touched by the care and concern that those taking my case before the European Court have shown towards me, even though I have never even met them.”

Taisa Abakarova, speaking after the European Court of Human Rights found Russia responsible for her family’s deaths during bombing in Katyr-Yurt (Chechnya)

In collaboration with our partner organisations and lawyers in Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Ukraine, we are currently litigating over 300 cases at the European Court of Human Rights and other international fora, including the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and UN Human Rights Committee.

“The Azerbaijani government wants to deceive the world by freeing me from prison, while my freedoms remain limited even out of jail. I can’t travel, I can’t be contracted by foreign media outlets. I am just one of many journalists banned from leaving the country, because the Government thinks that journalists should not exercise their freedom of expression, or make use of media opportunities outside of their oppressive regime…My goal is not just achieve justice for myself in this case: I also want the repressive measures of the authoritarian regime to be exposed.”

Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijani journalist & human rights defender, after we applied to the European Court in her case to challenge a travel ban against her

We take on cases which reflect systemic problems, or legislative gaps, to ensure that our work is strategic and has a wide impact. This is a tangible means of obtaining authoritative international recognition of human rights abuses where domestic mechanisms have failed or are unavailable. Judgments in EHRAC cases are often ground-breaking, set precedents in international law, contribute to resolving systemic issues at the domestic level and can serve as a catalyst to change national laws.

Our cases concern a wide range of significant human rights issues, including:
  • women’s rights (including gender-based discrimination and violence against women)

Obtaining a positive judgment from a court is not the end of the process. After a judgment, states may be required to take practical steps such as changing domestic laws or practices, carrying out effective investigations into particular incidents or releasing someone from detention. In such cases, we and our partners press states for effective implementation to help bring about long-term positive change in the countries in which we work, and to ensure that judgments have a wider impact on society.

We also actively engage in European Court reform processes. Changes to the way the Court functions have a direct impact on the people we represent, and their ability to seek justice. Our advocacy work often involves collaboration with other UK-based and international non-governmental organisations and lawyers.