Thursday, September 15, 2011

Russia’s compliance with ECHR judgments

Execution of ECHR judgments, especially those that require a state to prevent similar violations in the future, is of high importance for establishing the rule of law in a respondent state. In this post I would like to discuss Russia’s compliance with the Court’s judgments. Below is a brief analysis on this subject. [Please note that most links on this post are in Russian.]

What do NGO representatives say?

Experts from Carnegie Moscow Center and Human Rights Watch express concerns about execution of the Court’s judgments by Russia. Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Center points out that:

Russia’s government has also picked and chosen which laws to follow and Strasbourg’s rulings have fared no better than any others.
And a Russian researcher for Human Rights Watch, Tatiana Lokshina, in her interview with Novye Izvestia notes that there are certain of the Court’s judgments with which Russia fails to comply. Among them are judgments concerning Chechnya and Ingushetia, torture, cruel treatment, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Lokshina believes that the Russian Government has not undertaken any effective measures to prevent such violations in the future.

Opinion of the Strasbourg judges:

Angelika Nussberger, the judge representing Germany at the ECHR, in her interview to Frankfurter Allgemeine, quoted by Deutche Welle on 12 Jan 2011, points out that the Court’s judgments are taken into account by Russian authorities, but not so much has been done to comply with them.

Anatoly Kovler, the ECHR judge representing Russia, also acknowledges Russia’s failure to execute the Court’s judgments saying that Russia is one of the “leaders” in non-compliance with the ECHR judgments.

Position of the Russian Government

However, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation strongly disagrees with the above mentioned opinions and assures that the ECHR judgments are executed completely and unconditionally. Andrey Fedorov, the Deputy Minister of Justice in Russia, in his interview with Novye Izvestia rated Russia’s compliance with the ECHR judgments as 99.9%. He claims that in its judgments concerning Russia the Court always requires only payment of just satisfaction, and the Russian Government fulfills its payment obligations with respect to every ECHR judgment.

The Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly

The latest position of the Committee of Ministers regarding Russia’s compliance with the ECHR judgments was expressed at the meeting on 7-8 June 2011 and concerns Chechnya cases. In general, the Committee evaluated the measures undertaken by Russia to execute relevant Court’s judgments as ineffective. In particular, the Committee noted with regret that:
the information provided by the Russian authorities has not yet demonstrated the effectiveness of the measures adopted so far for conducting investigations in line with the Convention’s requirements
In February 2010 Christos Pourgourides, a Parliamentary Assembly Member, stated that Russia delays the execution of ECHR judgments, especially those that relate to systemic violations and gross violations of human rights. This point of view was reaffirmed by Mr. Pourgourides in the Report of 20 Dec 2010. In particular, paragraph 3 of the Report states that:
3.The Assembly has therefore decided to give priority to the examination of major structural problems concerning cases in which extremely worrying delays in implementation have arisen, currently in nine states parties: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. Special in situ visits have been carried out by the rapporteur and Chairperson of its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to most of these states in order to examine with national decision makers the reasons for dilatory execution and/or non-compliance and to stress the urgent need to find solutions to these problems.
Among the systemic problems undermining the rule of law in Russia the Rapporteur named chronic non-enforcement of domestic judicial decisions, deaths and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials and lack of effective investigations into them, and unlawful or over-long detention on remand.

Describing the actions undertaken by the Russian Government to prevent the above named problems in the future, the Rapporteur said the following:
…it must be recognised that a great number of reforms have been adopted or are under way; but, in reality, they do not yet appear to have had the desired effect, as is demonstrated by the number of applications pending before the Court.

Overall, Russia complies with the ECHR judgments insofar as payment obligations are concerned. However, when it comes to the judgment requiring fulfillment of general measures, Russia’s compliance may be considered as inefficient.

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