Georgia wins August war case against Russia in ECHR

Georgia submitted the lawsuit shortly after the Russia-Georgia 2008 war. Photo: Council of Europe / Sandro Weltin., 21 Jan 2021 - 16:42, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia has won the 2008 war case against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

The court released its judgement earlier today which says that Russia violated several articles of the European Convention on Human rights during the conflict and carried out ethnic cleansing of Georgians. 

The court said that Russia violated the following articles: 

  • The right to life (Article 2).
  • Prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 3).
  • The right to liberty and security (Article 5).
  • The right to protection of private and family life (Article 8).
  • Protection of property (Article 1 of Additional Protocol 1);
  • Freedom of movement (Article 2 of Protocol No. 4).

The court noted that it was not disputed that 160 Georgian civilians, most of whom were fairly elderly and one-third of whom were women, had been detained by South Ossetian forces in the basement of the “Ministry of Internal Affairs of South Ossetia” in Tskhinvali between around 10 and 27 August2008. Since the Georgian civilians had been detained mainly after the hostilities had ceased, the Court concluded that they had fallen within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.

The court said that Russia also violated the 38th article because it did not cooperate with ECHR. 

The court will now discuss the issue of compensations. Photo: Council of Europe / Sandro Weltin.

The court said that Russia is controlling Georgia’s Tskhinvali and Abkhazia regions and is responsible for the violation of human rights of Georgian citizens. 

The court said that Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are integral parts of Georgia. 

By eleven votes to six, ECHR said that the events occurring during the active phase of hostilities (8 to 12 August 2008) had not fallen within the jurisdiction of Russia. 

 By sixteen votes to one, ECHR said that the events occurring after the cessation of hostilities (following the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008) had fallen within the jurisdiction of Russia. 

The decision of the grand chamber of the court can not be appealed. 

Georgia submitted the lawsuit on August 11, 2008. The case was partly admitted by the court in December 2013. The first trial around the case was held in September 2011. Grand chamber of the court received the case in April 2012. Witnesses were heard in June 2016, while the last discussion was held in May 2018. 

The court should separately discuss the issue of compensations. The parties have a year's time to present their positions. 

After the judgement the court will also discuss individual lawsuits related to the August 2008 case. 

On January 31, 2019 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights also announced its judgment in the case Georgia v. Russia regarding the arrest, detention and collective expulsion of Georgian nationals from Russia in the autumn of 2006.

The verdict said Russia had to pay Georgia €10,000,000 for non-pecuniary damage suffered by a group of at least 1,500 Georgian nationals.

However, Russia has not paid the compensation so far. 

Russia continues the creeping occupation of Georgian territories. Photo: government of Georgia press office. 

Consequences of Russian aggression in 2008 in Georgia include:

  • Human losses: 412 killed on the Georgian side – including 170 military servicemen, 14 policemen and 228 civilians
  • 1,747 wounded on the Georgian side – including 973 military servicemen, 227 policemen and 547 civilians
  • Three journalists killed, six journalists wounded
  • 130,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – out of which 26,000 are still denied the right of return. [Overall, the number of IDPs from both occupied regions is now close to half a million]
  • 35,000 houses burned, ruined and destroyed
  • 125 more villages have been occupied since the August 2008 war