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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Crazed Russia Forces ECHR to Expand

Jurist reports:

In the latest string of judgments against Russia, the European Court of Human Rights [official website] Thursday held the country responsible for the deaths and disappearance of three people in Chechnya [BBC backgrounder]. In the first case [judgment; press release], the body of Nura Luluyeva, a nurse who disappeared in 2000, was found in a mass grave a year later and it was later shown that she died of physical injuries resulting from a severe beating. In the second case, Imakayeva v. Russia [judgment, press release], the court found that there had been multiple violations of the European Convention on Human Rights [text] with respect to the disappearance of a father and son in 2002 and 2000, respectively. Members of the victims' families in both cases were awarded monetary damages. Human rights groups in Russia estimate that between 3,000 and 5,000 disappearances have taken place since Russian troops moved into the region in 1999 to stop its moves for independence. Russia was held responsible for other Chechen deaths as recently as October and July [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

The judgments come several weeks after an announcement by the ECHR that it would add Russian specialists and expand its secretariat by ten percent due to the flood of complaints from Russia. In 2005, 8781 complaints were lodged against Russia, a fifth of all complaints brought before the Court that year and the highest number against any state signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. Lyudmila Alexeeva [official profile, in Russian; English profile], head of the human rights organization Moscow Helsinki Group [advocacy website] said that Russia's failed court system is the reason for the large number of applications from Russia. Luzius Wildhaber [official profile], chairman of the ECHR, suggested during a human rights conference in Moscow last month that the expanded staff will allow for the complaints to get resolved faster and promised to prioritize the consideration of the complaint [JURIST report] that alleges human rights violations during the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST news archive], former head of oil company Yukos [JURIST news archive]. Kommersant has more.

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