Published: 1 Dec 2013

EHRAC 10 Year Review: A decade of human rights litigation

EHRAC Annual Report

Grozny apartment block

EHRAC’s 10 year is now available online, which contains information about the organisation’s activities since 2003, as well as plans for the future. Please follow the link below to read it in full.

The impetus for establishing EHRAC was the beginning of the possibility to use litigation at the European Court of Human Rights to challenge egregious human rights violations committed by the Russian security forces in Chechnya and the other republics of the North Caucasus. Cases of torture, disappearances and the disproportionate use of military force have remained a key element of our work.

Since we opened our doors in 2003 we have also taken on cases about the right to demonstrate, the right to a fair trial, the right to a healthy environment, the protection of journalists and human rights defenders, the rights of detainees and people being extradited, and the right to freedom of movement. We have brought litigation to challenge ethnic discrimination and the failure to investigate crimes of violence against women. We have expanded our remit beyond Russia, developing our work in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Our litigation in the South Caucasus includes cases arising from the 2008 South Ossetian conflict and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The rationale for setting up EHRAC was always to strengthen the capacity of human rights organisations in the region to litigate effectively and strategically in Strasbourg, and to that end we have worked with Memorial in Russia, the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association in Georgia and many other lawyers and NGOs from across the region.

In the ten year period we have taken on 310 European Court cases, leading to judgments in 98 cases (so far). At least one violation of the European Convention on Human Rights was found in 96% of these decisions, and more than six and a half million Euros have been awarded to the applicants. For many applicants the Strasbourg process was critical in establishing what had happened, and who was responsible – especially for family members in Chechnya whose loved ones had been the subject of enforced disappearances or extra-judicial executions. Other litigants achieved particular measures of individual redress, such as a supreme court judge who was reinstated to his role, or the man whose extradition from Russia was prevented as he faced the risk of torture in his home country. As well as achieving a measure of justice and accountability, and drawing international attention to human rights abuses, a number of the cases have led directly to changes in national law and practice.

This review tells you just some of the stories behind these cases.