Published: 31 Dec 2017
Annual Report 2017
In April 2017, EHRAC achieved a landmark judgment for the survivors and families of victims of the 2004 Beslan School Siege, in collaboration with our oldest partner, Memorial Human Rights Centre in Moscow. The European Court’s judgment represents a benchmark for states’ obligations to ensure human rights protection from terrorism. Russia’s actions were found to have contributed to 334 fatalities and hundreds of casualties.
“Representing 300 former hostages and relatives of hostages of the Beslan school siege was by far the most harrowing case that I have litigated. I was so pleased and relieved that we won every argument we pleaded and got such a strong judgment for the victims.”
Jessica Gavron, EHRAC Legal Director
Their victory has been a key highlight in EHRAC’s history, and exemplifies why the European Court remains an essential bastion of human rights protection. The extensive media coverage of the Court’s strong criticism of Russia’s response to the siege focused much needed attention on the impunity of Russian authorities implicated in human rights violations.
Whilst our relationships with our oldest partners, Memorial and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, go from strength to strength, we have also fostered new partnerships and responded to emerging human rights issues in the region. We are at the forefront of challenging systemic discrimination and repression (such as gender-based violence, the failure to provide legal gender recognition for trans people, religious hate crime) and repression of vocal critics of the authorities. Meanwhile we continue to take cases arising from conflict in the North Caucasus, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Our strong and collaborative relationship with local NGOs is at the very core of EHRAC’s success, and shapes our legal mentoring, with a view to improving human rights protection in the long term.
2018 marks EHRAC’s fifteenth anniversary, and is an opportunity to reflect not only on the year just passed, but on all that we have achieved since our inception (including 150 judgments in 15 years). We have grown from just two staff members to a dedicated team of thirteen; we owe a lot to all our former and current staff, interns and volunteers, who have helped us across all areas of our work, from translation to legal research, finance to fundraising. A huge vote of thanks again to our funders, whose commitment to EHRAC’s work over many years has been integral to our continuing growth.