Published: 14 Jul 2016

EHRAC Bulletin Summer 2016

EHRAC Bulletin

This is the 25th edition of the EHRAC Bulletin. In this anniversary edition we look back on some of our successful cases over the last thirteen years, and discuss current and future priorities. We also wanted to pay tribute to the volunteers and interns who have worked with us over this period; one of our ‘alumni’, Shoaib M Khan, takes a look at what six of our former interns are doing now, and how the internship helped them to pursue a career in human rights, whether as part of civil society, the legal community or academia.

EHRAC’s first judgments in 2005 were in six cases from Chechnya, concerning torture, killings and indiscriminate bombing by the Russian security services. Libkan Bazayeva, an applicant in one of these cases, explains the important role the judgment from the European Court of Human Rights has played in providing her and those around her with hope of redress. We also speak to Lord Frank Judd, the former Council of Europe Special Rapporteur on Chechnya, about how Chechnya changed during his four-year tenure and his experiences on the ground. Some of our earliest cases from Georgia relate to border issues with Russia; Monica Ellena (a journalist in Tbilisi) tells the story of those living in the breakaway region of South Ossetia now, in light of the International Criminal Court’s decision to launch an investigation into crimes allegedly committed during the 2008 armed conflict.

The landscape in Russia and the South Caucasus has, of course, changed since we were founded in 2003, and we continue to work with our partner NGOs to litigate ground-breaking cases on a number of themes. Over the last few years, the intensification of civil society repression in Russia and Azerbaijan has led to large volumes of cases relating to NGO regulation and imprisoned human rights defenders. Kirill Koroteev (Legal Director, Memorial HRC) explores some of the parallels between the two countries, while Samed Rahimli, a human rights lawyer in Baku, provides an insight into the experiences of lawyers defending those who protect the rights of others. Recently released human rights defenders Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov and Anar Mammadli reflect on the use of politically-motivated charges to silence critical voices in Azerbaijan. Women’s rights is another of our priorities: Kate Levine (EHRAC Lawyer) explores how UN mechanisms dealing with violence against women have engaged with this issue regionally, drawing on our experience of X and Y v Georgia, the first case from the region to be decided by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Also writing on the Georgian context, Tamar Abazadze (Strategic Litigation Lawyer, Georgian Young Lawyers Association) examines the Government’s recent body of European Court cases decided by way of ‘unilateral declaration’. The referendum on constitutional reform in Armenia took place on 6 December 2015, highlighting problems in the fairness of the electoral system; Lousineh Hakobyan (President of the Europe in Law Association, Yerevan) evaluates the extent to which the way the referendum complied with international standards. Continuing his series of articles about the effect of the annexation of Crimea on Crimean Tatars, Graham Donnelly (PhD Researcher, University of Glasgow) speaks to Tamila Tasheva from the NGO KRYM SOS, to discuss the challenges they face both in Crimea and mainland Ukraine.