Published: 22 Jun 2020
EHRAC’s Latest Bulletin (June 2020)
In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, and though we have temporarily vacated our beloved Church Farm office, we are continuing to work on a remote basis.
Since our last update, we have welcomed two members to the EHRAC team: our new Oak Fellow, Dariana Gryaznova; and our new Lawyer, Constantin Cojocariu.
In this issue:
Our 2019 Annual Report showcases the ambitious scope and potential of our precedent-setting, strategic human rights litigation. The report celebrates our cooperation with regional partner lawyers and NGOs through unique, hands-on, legal mentoring and training, and demonstrates our impact in securing justice for victims of human rights violations and their families and bringing about lasting systemic change in the region.
The prominent Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny (pictured centre), his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), and nine of his associates and associated entities have submitted a new application to the European Court of Human Rights, in which they claim that they are being unlawfully prevented from carrying out their activities by the Russian authorities as a result of a large and invasive criminal investigation into alleged money laundering by FBK staff.
EHRAC’s Director Philip Leach said: “This is a hugely important case for the defence of democratic freedoms in Russia, and for the effective safeguarding of human rights defenders and other ‘critical voices’ whose activities are constantly threatened by the arbitrary conduct of the Russian authorities.”
Last month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Azerbaijan granted “virtual impunity” to a convicted murderer because of the ethnic Armenian origin of his victims. Azerbaijani military officer Ramil Safarov was convicted in Budapest in 2006 of the premeditated murder of Armenian lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan (pictured above) and the attempted murder of another Armenian officer, Hayk Machukyan.
EHRAC, together with Nazeli Vardanyan, represented Hayk Makuchyan and the family of Gurgen Margaryan in this case.
The European Court of Human Rights deals with the majority of cases on paper without holding an oral hearing. Written witness statements therefore remain the most important way of presenting the evidence of victims, or other persons, to the Court.
In April, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court quashed the convictions of prominent human rights defender Rasul Jafarov (pictured above) and the opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov, ordering them to be compensated. Rasul had previously served a 20-month prison sentence after being convicted on trumped-up charges in 2015. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in March 2016 that his arrest and detention had no legal or evidential basis and was aimed at punishing him for his human rights work. We litigated the case on Rasul’s behalf. The Azerbaijani Government failed to properly implement the judgment in the case for over four years.
We have been closely monitoring and engaging with the implementation of Rasul’s case, as well as the case of human rights defender Intigam Aliyev, who was also jailed on bogus charges in 2015. Intigam’s conviction has not been quashed, despite an ECtHR ruling which found that his arrest and detention had been politically-motivated. He still awaits justice.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has officially confirmed there has been “satisfactory implementation” of its recommendations to Georgia in the first ever case on domestic violence in the country to be decided by an international body. In its 2015 landmark decision in X and Y v Georgia, CEDAW called upon Georgia to institute root-and-branch reforms to tackle domestic violence.
The case was jointly litigated by EHRAC and Tbilisi-based NGO Article 42. Following the decision, we continued, in partnership with Article 42, several other Georgian civil society organisations and the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, to seek the full and effective implementation of CEDAW’s recommendations in Georgia.
In our blog:
In Azerbaijan’s 2020 elections and the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders, the author asks: how did Azerbaijan’s failure to comply with international legal standards contribute to the suppression of dissenting voices?
In The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Right to Know in Russia, EHRAC‘s Oak Fellow Dariana Gryaznova explains how the present crisis has intensified dangerous trends relating to the lack of transparency in Russia.
We highlight cases which are thematically or geographically relevant to lawyers litigating cases from the former Soviet Union, raise novel legal issues, or set new legal precedents. Our case summaries are provided on a pro bono basis by the law firm Dentons.
EHRAC in the Media:
We saw some high-profile media coverage of our strategic litigation over the past few months. Reuters and RFE/RL covered our submission of the new application on behalf of Alexei Navalny and the FBK. The Guardian published a story on the Gurgen Margaryan case. EHRAC Director Philip Leach also featured on RFE/RL‘s Azatutyun TV and the Armenian online news site EVN Report, commenting on the European Court of Human Rights’ judgement against Azerbaijan in that case.