Published: 25 Jul 2018 | By Cornelia Klocker
Collective punishment in Chechnya
Time to act for the Council of Europe?
Collective punishment is a concept deriving from the law of armed conflicts. It describes the process of imposing sanctions on a group (for example, on the basis of their ethnicity or political affiliation) for acts allegedly committed by one or some of their members. As a concept, collective punishment represents an act contradicting the fundamental principle of individual responsibility as it deliberately targets the innocent and it is prohibited in international and non-international armed conflicts by treaty as well as customary international law.
Although the major offensives of the first and second non-international armed conflict between Chechnya and Russia (1994-96 and 1999-2000 respectively) ended over 18 years ago, the imposition of collective punishment on Chechens continues. This prompts the question as to whether human rights law, and in particular the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, the Court) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), can respond to these challenging circumstances and provide effective protection and redress for Chechens affected by collective punishment.