The European Court of Human Rights will be holding a hearing in February 2019: Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) (application no. 20958/14), concerning Ukraine’s allegations of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights by Russia in Crimea. After the hearing the Court will begin its deliberations, which will be held in private. Its ruling in the case will, however, be made at a later stage.
The original application, Ukraine v. Russia, was lodged on 13 March 2014.
The Ukrainian Government maintain that the Russian Federation has from 27 February 2014 exercised effective control over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, an integral part of Ukraine, and has exercised jurisdiction over a situation which has resulted in numerous Convention violations. The Government allege that the violations are a result of a general administrative practice by Russia.
The applicant Government rely on Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security), 6 (right to a fair trial), 8 (right to respect for private life), 9 (freedom of religion), 10 (freedom of expression), 11 (freedom of assembly and association), 13 (right to an effective remedy) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property), and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement) to the European Convention.
In particular, the applicant Government allege that Ukrainian military servicemen, officers of law-enforcement bodies and civilians were killed as a result of the allegedly illegal annexation of Crimea.
Furthermore, they allege cases of torture or other forms of ill-treatment of civilians and of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. A number of Crimean Tatars have also allegedly been subjected to ill-treatment on account of their ethnic origin or their attempts to protect Ukrainian national symbols. The Government of Ukraine complain that Ukrainian court judgments were reclassified under Russian legislation and that convicted people were transferred to Russian Federation territory.
The applicant Government state that Ukrainian nationals living in Crimea were subjected to the unlawful imposition of automatic Russian citizenship and that pressure was exerted on those who expressed the wish to remain Ukrainian nationals. There were allegedly cases of attacks, abductions, ill-treatment and harassment of journalists doing their work.
It states in addition that there has been harassment and intimidation of religious ministers who are not members of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has particularly affected Ukrainian Orthodox priests and imams.
Under Article 10, the Government allege that the work of Ukrainian and foreign journalists in the Crimea has been interfered with, while under Article 11 it complains in particular that a demonstration by Crimean Tartars was prevented.
It is alleged that the property of Ukrainian legal entities was subjected to unlawful control, namely by being taken by the self-proclaimed authorities of the Crimean Republic, acts that were later approved by Russian legislation. The Government of Ukraine maintain that the new border between Crimea and Ukraine has led to the unlawful restriction of Ukrainian nationals’ entry into Crimea.
On 13 March 2014, the Court applied Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (interim measures) to this case. It called upon Russia and Ukraine to refrain from measures, in particular military action, which might bring about violations of the civilian population’s Convention rights, notably under Articles 2 and 3. The interim measure remains in force.
Division of the case
To make its processing of the inter-State cases brought by Ukraine against Russia more efficient, the Court decided last year to deal with all the complaints related to events in Crimea in case no. 20958/14, while complaints relating to events in Eastern Ukraine and Donbass were placed under Ukraine v. Russia (V), application no. 8019/16.
On 7 May 2018 the Chamber dealing with these inter-State cases relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber.
Ukraine has lodged a number of other inter-State cases against Russia, and there are more than 4,000 individual applications concerning events in Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and the Donbass region.
Press release ECHR 051 (2019) 31.01.2019