Russia Urged to Honor European Human Rights Judgments

Secretary General of the 46-nation Council of Europe (COE), Marija Pejčinović Burić. Photo: COE
Secretary General of the 46-nation Council of Europe (COE), Marija Pejčinović Burić. Photo: COE

Russia Urged to Honor European Human Rights Judgments

The Committee of Ministers again urged the Russian authorities to pay the sum without delay.

Despite the fact that Russia was excluded from the Council of Europe (CoE) in March 2022 and has stopped all communication with the organization on the execution of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Russia is still a member of the United Nations (UN) and subject to its monitoring procedures.

In a statement of December 8, the CoE says it is actively working with the UN bodies to remind Russia of its unconditional legal obligation to implement ECHR judgments. 

The UN Special Rapporteur is scheduled to visit Strasbourg for an exchange of views with the CoE’s Committee of Ministers on this topic. How the UN can help to ensure that Russia implements ECHR judgments and the latest developments on pending Russian cases were discussed at the latest quarterly meeting of the CoE Committee of Ministers on the execution of ECHR judgments from 5-7 December.

In the interstate Georgia v. Russia (II) case, related to the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008, the European Court held in April 2023 that Russia was to pay the Georgian government over €129 million within three months. 

In an Interim Resolution adopted at the recent meeting, the Committee of Ministers noted that no payment has been made and the total amount owed by the Russian Federation, including interest accrued, stands at some €133.4 million.

An Interim Resolution is a form of decision adopted by the Committee of Ministers aimed at overcoming more complex situations requiring special attention.

The Committee of Ministers again urged the Russian authorities to pay the sum without delay. It firmly reiterated its profound concern about the inability of Georgian nationals to return to their homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and its insistence that the Russian Federation, which has effective control over these regions, ensures without delay measures to prevent kidnapping, killing, torture or any other incident which impedes the free and safe movement of Georgian nationals and ensures the safe return of persons wishing to return to their homes. The Committee of Ministers has also taken a decision on the Georgia v. Russia (I) case.

After its examination of cases related to the high-profile deaths of persons critical of the Russian authorities Sergei Magnitsky, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Alexander Litvinenko, and the lack of effective investigations into the deaths, the Committee of Ministers stressed Russia’s unconditional obligation to pay the ‘just satisfaction’ awarded by the Court and to implement the judgments in full. 

According to CoE, information about the implementation of these cases will be brought to the attention of the UN and the EU. The Committee of Ministers also adopted a decision on a group of nine cases related to jailed Russian leader Alexei Navalny. 

It urged the Russian authorities to repeal laws adopted contrary to international law that establish domestic legal obstacles to the execution of the judgments delivered by the European Court of Human Rights, strongly condemned the fact that Alexei Navalny is still in prison and exhorted the Russian authorities to ensure his immediate release and provide him with free access to independent doctors and unimpeded visits from lawyers.

In its decision on cases related to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to the refusal to register LGBTI associations, the Committee of Ministers deeply deplored the widely reported ongoing deterioration of LGBTI rights in Russia, reiterated the authorities’ obligation to take all possible measures to eradicate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and stressed further the need of legislative changes.

Following this week’s meeting, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, again wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation urging the authorities to comply with their binding international law obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights to fully abide by the judgments of the European Court.

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Rakesh Raman