Published: 25 Jul 2018
EHRAC Bulletin Summer 2018
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic events in Armenia on 1 March 2008 following protests in Yerevan after the disputed Presidential election. The bereaved families still do not have answers about what happened to their loved ones, nor has anyone been held responsible for their deaths. We publish their testimonials here, highlighting the emotional reality that lies behind legal cases.
This year also marks 15 years since EHRAC was established with the aim of holding state authorities to account, primarily for the egregious human rights abuses – disappearances, murders, bombings, arbitrary arrests and detentions – occurring in the North Caucasus, particularly in Chechnya. Cornelia Klocker (PhD Candidate, Birkbeck, University of London) examines the concept and practice of collective punishment in this context, and raises the question of whether it is time for the Council of Europe to act in the wake of yet another spate of reprisals against vilified groups in Chechnya.
However, our anniversary is also an important moment to reflect on progress. In Russia and the European Court of Human Rights: the Strasbourg Effect (Cambridge University Press 2018, Lauri Mälksoo and Wolfgang Benedek (eds.)), the authors explore the various ways in which the European Court has had a beneficial impact in Russia, summarised in our leading article by former intern Joyce Man. Protocol No. 16 to the ECHR, which enters into force in 10 countries including Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine on 1 August 2018, represents another potentially positive development. As former intern Harriet Bland explains, the new Protocol, which allows states to request advisory opinions from the Court on the interpretation or application of the ECHR, may help resolve cases earlier nationally, thus avoiding the need for applicants to seek redress from the Strasbourg Court.
Turning to domestic matters, Emin Abbasov, one of only a handful of human rights lawyers who dares to practise in Azerbaijan following a tightening of restrictions on the legal profession, asks what lies ahead for the Azerbaijani legal profession in light of the most recent package of repressive legislative reforms. Christian De Vos (Open Society Justice Initiatives) and Roisin Pillay (International Commission of Jurists) analyse law and practice in the selection of human rights judges and commissioners for international human rights mechanisms (including the Strasbourg Court), noting the general lack of criteria in place to guide the nomination of qualified, merit-based candidates at the national level. A lack of robust and independent structures in the judicial and legal frameworks remains a systemic issue across EHRAC’s target region.