Founded in 2003, EHRAC works with partners in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine, to challenge serious human rights abuses before the European Court of Human Rights and international mechanisms.
Our mission and team
We are experts in international human rights law and international mechanisms.
We support and collaborate with human rights defenders in Russia, Ukraine and the South Caucasus to litigate ground-breaking strategic cases to secure justice and challenge impunity. Together we identify systemic abuses and respond to urgent threats to civil society and marginalised communities.
Through joint litigation, advocacy and exchange of expertise, we support our partner lawyers to maintain momentum on these issues even in the most challenging circumstances. Our sustained and holistic commitment results in a more resilient human rights community, improving human rights standards and preventing future abuses.
- Through our solidarity and expert legal support, HRDs and lawyers have increased skills, capacity and resilience to challenge human rights abuses.
- Through our trauma-informed litigation applicants’ voices are heard and barriers to justice challenged, leading to increased access to justice for vulnerable and persecuted communities.
- Through our creative and rigorous litigation, national and international precedents are set, leading to increased national protection and raised international human rights standards.
We are RESPECTFUL in our attitude: we listen and learn from our team, our partners, our applicants, and our peers in the region
We demonstrate SOLIDARITY and EQUITY in our partnerships: we exchange expertise and collaborate flexibly in response to the challenging environments in which our partners operate
We act with INTEGRITY in our decision making: we ensure that we work accountably and ethically, within our expertise and according to the principle of ‘do no harm’
We are INNOVATIVE in our approach: we bring a bold and creative approach to our work whether in pushing the boundaries in our cutting-edge litigation or in problem solving the programmatic challenges in our region.
EHRAC’s work is overseen by an International Steering Committee and a UK-based Advisory Board.
EHRAC’s International Steering Committee
The International Steering Committee informs us of recent developments on the ground, and advises us on which issues might be suitable to challenge through European Court litigation. The Committee’s members are: Besarion Bokhashvili, Lara Aharonian, Intigam Aliyev, Galina Arapova, Prof. Bill Bowring, Anton Burkov, Halya Coynash, Giorgi Gogia, Tamar Gvaramadze, Dmytro Kotlyar, Dr. Armen Mazmanyan, and Anna Sevortian.
Besarion Bokhashvili (Chair) National Human Rights Officer for Georgia, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in South Caucasus
Besarion Bokhashvili is the National Human Rights Officer for Georgia at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in South Caucasus, and a member of the advisory committee of the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities being elected in respect of Georgia. Besarion is the Focal Point of the COE Human Rights Education Program for Legal Professionals (HELP) in Georgia. He was previously the team leader of an EU Project to support human rights and the rule of law in Georgia, and from 2007 to 2009 was Director of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA). He has more than 15 years of legal experience, including being the State Representative of Georgia to the European Court of Human Rights. He has also served as a local expert for the EU, the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Council of Europe, UN Development Programme, Open Society Institute and other organisations. He has extensive experience as a lecturer and trainer, including at the High School of Justice, Tbilisi State University, Free University of Georgia.
Besarion has published a number of books and papers on articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, their compatibility with Georgian legislation, and their implementation. He is a PHD Candidate at Tbilisi State University and holds a law degree from Tbilisi State University and an LLM in Human Rights Law from the University of Nottingham. He is fluent in Georgian, Russian and English.
Lara Aharonian, Director, Women’s Resource Centre, Yerevan
Lara Aharonian was born in Beirut, but during the Lebanese civil war of the 1990s she emigrated to Montreal, Canada where she studied psycho-education and comparative feminist literature. She has been living in Armenia for the past 12 years. She co-founded the Women’s Resource Center in Yerevan in 2003 to empower women in the region and challenge the patriarchal norms in Armenian society. In 2008, she created the first crisis centre for survivors of sexual assault in Armenia to break the silence and shame around violence against women. Since then, with other activists, she has advocated for the rights of women experiencing domestic violence and supported them in finding justice. Since 2007, she has also worked with women living in the conflict region of Nagorno-Karabakh to include them in the peace processes.
She is one of the directors of the documentary film “Finding Zabel Yesayan” on the life and work of the Armenian female writer and social activist of the early 20th century
Intigam Aliyev, Head of the Legal Education Society, Baku
Intigam Aliyev is a prominent lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in the field of human rights. His organisation, LES, has been active in the defence of civil and political rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan since 1999. Alongside strategic litigation, it is also involved in training lawyers and providing human rights education. Intigam has extensive experience of litigating before the European Court of Human Rights, and has won more than 15 cases against Azerbaijan. He also serves as a legal and human rights expert for the OSCE, the Council of Europe HELP committee, and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative amongst others. He is dedicated to publicising government violations at a regional and international level. In 2012, he was a recipient of the human rights organisation People In Need’s Homo Hominis award in recognition of his commitment to defending the human rights of the Azerbaijani people.
Galina Arapova, Director, Mass Media Defence Centre, Voronezh
Galina Arapova has a law degree and post-graduate in world economy and international relations (Russian Academy of Sciences), and graduated from the Institute of European Law (University of Birmingham, UK, Human Rights Law and practice program conducted in cooperation with Council of Europe). Galina has worked in the field of freedom of expression and freedom of information since 1995. She is a director and senior media lawyer at the Mass Media Defence Centre (since 1996), working in the field of media rights protection, and promotion of freedom of expression standards in Russia.
Galina Arapova is a practising media lawyer with a wide practice in defending media in defamation and privacy cases and other media-related issues. She is a member of the UNESCO Chair on Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Rights established at the Institute of International Law and Economics (Russian Federation), and an expert/trainer for the Swedish Media Institute (FOJO). Galina takes cases to the European Court on Human Rights on Article 10 of the European Convention issues, and acts as a national expert for Council of Europe HELP program (Human rights education for legal professionals) for Russia. She has extensive experience of work as a lecturer/trainer around Russia, the CIS countries and Eastern Europe, providing training on a wide range of FOE-related issues to journalists, media lawyers, barristers and judges. Galina is a vice-chair of the international human rights organization ARTICLE 19.
Prof. Bill Bowring, Professor Birkbeck College, London
Professor Bowring is a practising barrister specialising in human rights. He is also Professor of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he teaches human rights and international law. He co-founded EHRAC in 2003. He has practical experience of taking cases to Strasbourg since 1994, with many cases against Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Latvia, including all stages of pleadings and appearances before the Court, and in fact-finding hearings in-country. Since 1991 he has undertaken ECHR, ICCPR and CAT training in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. He has more than 90 relevant publications. He was a founding member in 1992 of the Bar Human Rights Committee, and is currently a member of its Executive Committee. Since 1992 he has been a Trustee of the Redress Trust (Reparation for Torture Survivors). He is also International Secretary of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, and is President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights.
Anton Burkov, Sutyazhnik (NGO), Ekaterinburg
Anton Burkov is the deputy director of Management Systems International. In this capacity, he manages the Mainstreaming Human, Social and Civil Rights Program’s “I’ve Got Rights” project, which seeks to create and support the conditions and political will to sustain the observance of human, social, and civil rights in Russia. The project operates in Voronezh, Nizhniy Novgorod, Novosibirsk and Perm. Anton also chairs the European and Comparative Law Department of the Russian State University for the Humanities and serves as a legal representative in numerous cases before national courts and the European Court of Human Rights. He also serves as a staff attorney with the NGO Sutyazhnik, in Yekaterinburg; an organization that promotes the protection of human rights in Russia, particularly in the area of labour rights.
As a member of Sutyazhnik’s Urals Center for Constitutional and International Human Rights Protection, Anton received the highest legal prize in Russia, the FEMIDA Award, ‘for contributions toward the creation of a democratic society and the development of state legal institutions.’ As an expert on the Russian legal system, he has authored numerous publications, including: ‘The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in Russian Courts’ (2010), ‘The European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Russian Legal System’ in Leonard Hammer and Frank Emmert (eds.), ‘The European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in Central and Eastern Europe’ (2012), and ‘The Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on Russian Law’ (2007). Anton received a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, an LL.M. from the University of Essex, a candidate of science degree from Tiumen’ State University, and a law degree from the Urals State Law Academy.
As a PILnet International Fellow, Anton worked on a project to establish a human rights NGO in Russia to litigate cases focusing on minority issues with the goal of bringing domestic legislation up to international human rights standards.
Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Kharkiv
Halya Coynash has been a member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group for the last 10 years, and is editor of the English language website. She also writes for other, mainly Ukrainian media (in Ukrainian, Russian and English). However, since EuroMaidan she has concentrated on spreading information in English about events and human rights issues in both Ukraine and Russia. She is particularly concerned with media issues (propaganda, media manipulation, freedom of speech); far-right movements; and politicisation and manipulation of historical memory, amongst others.
Before joining the KHRG, she taught (first Russian, then English) at various universities, schools and other institutions in the UK, Russia, Ukraine and Poland. She is also the author of a Russian language course for the publisher Palgrave Macmillan.
Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus Director, Europe and Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, NY
Giorgi Gogia is an expert on human rights issues in the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. He has worked and written extensively on criminal justice system reform, police brutality, freedom of expression and media freedoms and property rights. He has also worked and written on international humanitarian law during armed conflicts and health and human rights. While at Human Rights Watch, Giorgi has documented excessive use of force by police in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan as well as media freedoms in Azerbaijan. He also documented human rights and humanitarian law violations during the Georgia-Russia conflict over South Ossetia in 2008, and the rights of ethnic Georgians who returned to their homes in Abkhazia, another of Georgia’s breakaway regions.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Giorgi worked for International Crisis Group as a senior analyst, researching and writing on protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus – Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. A graduate of Central European University in Hungary, Giorgi is a PhD candidate in political science at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. He speaks Georgian, English, and Russian.
Tamar Gvaramadze, Executive Director, GYLA, Tbilisi
Tamar Gvaramadze has been the Executive Director of the Georgian Young Lawyers` Association since January 27, 2014. In 2011-2014 she was a project coordinator in GYLA for the Judicial Independence and Legal Empowerment Project (JILEP) funded by USAID and implemented though the East -West Management Institute in Georgia. At the same time she was coordinating the activities of the Legal Aid Centre in GYLA’s central office. Previously, in 2005-2009 Tamar Gvaramadze worked in GYLA in different positions. During this period she served as a lawyer in the Project and was engaged in work with the Legal Aid Center as a lawyer. She has been an assistant-professor at Tbilisi State University since 2008. In 2009-2011 Tamar occupied different managerial positions in the public sector, working in the Ministry of Education and Science and the Internal Revenue Service. Tamar Gvaramadze holds the degree of Doctor of Law from the faculty of law, Tbilisi State University.
Dr. Armen Mazmanyan, Director, Apella Institute, Yerevan
Armen Mazmanyan is the Director of the Apella Institute and its Center for Constitutional Studies. He obtained his PhD in Law from the European University Institute in 2009 after a four-year intensive research on constitutional review in post-Soviet countries. He has had several articles and chapters on comparative constitutional law and politics published by international journals and publishing houses. His most recent article, Failing Constitutionalism, was published in 2013 by “Global Constitutionalism”, a Cambridge journal with a famous focus on contemporary trends in transnational constitutionalism.
Dr. Mazmanyan taught comparative and international law in the American University of Armenia between 2003 and 2012 and held research positions in different universities in Europe and the US, most recently in Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Columbia University Law School and the Center for Law and Cosmopolitan Values at the University of Antwerp. He also frequently advises international organizations and NGOs on legal reforms and democratic institutions in countries transitioning to democracy.
Armen Mazmanyan’s expertise includes constitutional research, human rights, democratization, political economy of development, elections and electoral integrity, European law and integration, and international law.
Anna Sevortian, Executive Director, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin
Anna is the Executive Director at the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. She is a former Director at the Human Rights Watch–Russia, and has a 15-year experience of working on civil society and human rights in the former Soviet Union. Ms. Sevortian was Galina Starovoitova Fellow at the Wilson Centre in Washington, DC and Deputy Director of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights in Moscow. Over the years, she contributed to 40 research and evaluation projects and publications in Russian and English. Anna holds a Mid-Career MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and a journalism diploma from Moscow State University.
EHRAC’s UK Advisory Board
Along with the International Steering Committee, the UK-based Advisory Board oversees EHRAC’s work and our strategic development. The members of the Board are: Samantha Knights, Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Professor Joshua Castellino, Simon Erskine, Mervyn Fletcher, Luke Harding and Natalia Prilutskaya.
Samantha Knights QC (Chair), Barrister, Matrix Chambers
Samantha is a practising barrister at Matrix specialising in the areas of immigration, public and commercial law. She has been instructed on a number of high profile and test cases in her specialist areas and appears regularly in the higher courts in England and Wales. She regularly speaks at seminars and has published widely in her areas including a monograph entitled Freedom of Religion, Minorities and the Law (Oxford University Press, 2007). She has assisted EHRAC-Memorial in a large number of cases raising issues under the ECHR. Samantha is a member of the EHRAC International Steering Committee, and a member of the Bar Human Rights Committee.
Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Associate Professor of International Law, London School of Economics, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
Chaloka Beyani is Associate Professor in International Law in the Law Department, a member of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and former Chair of its Advisory Board, and a member of the Centre for Climate Change at LSE. He is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and served as Chairperson of the United Nations Special Procedures Coordinating Committee 2013-2014. In addition to teaching at several universities, Chaloka has advised a number of international bodies on issues pertaining to human rights and refugees. In Kenya, he sat on the committee to draft and prepare the National Constitution, and has served as an expert to the African Union. He has also drafted and negotiated 11 peace treaties. He is currently a member of the UK Foreign Secretary’s Advisory Group on Human Rights and a member of the Steering Board of the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Sexual Violence against women in armed conflict.
Professor Joshua Castellino, Executive Director, Minority Rights Group International
Joshua Castellino is Executive Director of Minority Rights Group International and Professor of International & Comparative Law at the University of Derby, United Kingdom. He founded the School of Law at Middlesex University, London (2012), serving as Dean until stepping down to move to MRG in 2018. He holds visiting academic positions at the College of Europe (Poland), University of Oxford (UK), and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway, (Republic of Ireland), and serves pro bono on governing boards of civil society organisations in Germany, India, Netherlands, Hungary and UK. Born and brought up in Mumbai, he worked as a journalist for Indian Express Group in the 1990s, before winning a Chevening Scholarship and completing his PhD in International Law in 1998. He has published eight books and over a hundred articles on international law & human rights, including the Minority Rights Series published by Oxford University Press. He engages with questions of minority and indigenous peoples’ rights at inter-governmental, parliamentary, apex courts, bar associations, civil society organisations and universities in over fifty countries. He was Chair of the 8th Forum on Minority Issues (2015), an inter-governmental dialogue with civil society under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Simon Erskine, DChA, FCA, FCIE, Chartered Accountant
After graduating from King’s College, Cambridge, Simon worked for three years as the administrator of a homelessness charity before training as a chartered accountant with Arthur Young. In 1982 he established his own accountancy practice working for the voluntary sector. This merged with a similar practice which in turn merged with MHA MacIntyre Hudson in July 2011 where Simon became National Charities Technical Partner. Up to his retirement in September 2016 his clients included Greenpeace UK, Liberty (the National Council for Civil Liberties), CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), Refugee Action and a number of other charities and voluntary groups. Simon still advises charities on a freelance basis. He actively supports a range of charities and campaigning groups, particularly in the fields of the environment, international development and human rights. He was the Treasurer, and a trustee, of Freedom from Torture (formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture) for 25 years to 2014.
Mervyn Fletcher, Head of News, Save the Children
For many years, Mervyn was a BBC News editor and producer. He started his BBC career as a television news producer, before being part of the small team that set-up BBC News Online in the mid-1990s. He was output editor of the ‘World At One’ on BBC Radio 4. His BBC career included covering many international stories and undertaking investigative journalism. More recently he transformed how Save the Children conducts its global communications by setting up, and being Head of, its Global Media Unit. He is currently Head of News at Save the Children. Mervyn joined UNICEF in Indonesia in 2005 to manage its communications and external relations in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami. He progressed to be UNICEF’s regional communication manager in eastern Europe and former Soviet Union territories, working and travelling extensively across this region. It included managing communication and external relations during many crises, including the Russia/Georgia war, Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and anti-vaccination campaigns in the Balkans. He also managed UNICEF’s communications and external relations in Colombo, in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war. Mervyn has an MMus in Jazz Performance from the Guildhall School of Music (London), and a BA (Hons) in History from Manchester University.
Luke Harding, journalist & author, The Guardian
Luke Harding is a journalist, writer and award-winning correspondent with the Guardian. He has reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. Between 2007 and 2011 he was the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief. The Kremlin expelled him from the country in the first case of its kind since the Cold War. His latest book “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man” was published in February by Guardian Faber. In June Oliver Stone bought film rights. Luke is the author of three previous non-fiction books. They are “The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken” (1997), nominated for the Orwell Prize; and “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy” (2011), both written with David Leigh. The screen rights to Wikileaks were sold to Hollywood and the film, “The Fifth Estate”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl, came out in 2013. “Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia” appeared in 2011. His books have been translated into 20 languages.
Natalia Prilutskaya, Campaigner (Russia), Amnesty International
Natalia Prilutskaya graduated from the Law faculty of Tomsk State University and has since worked as a lawyer and as Senior Lecturer in International and European Law at Novokuznetsk Branch-Institute of Kemerovo State University. Her particular interests focus on human rights, including social rights and the position of older people no longer protected by being within the work force. She has published several articles on human rights issues. She also holds an LLM (Distinction) in Human Rights from London Metropolitan University, during which she undertook an internship with EHRAC and participated in several training seminars for lawyers and human rights activists conducted by EHRAC both as a trainee and as a trainer. Natalia currently works as a campaigner for Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Regional Programme.