Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 9

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on February 24 handed down rulings on claims brought by six Chechens who blame the Russian government for the deaths of relatives. The court ruled that the Russian Federation had violated the right to life, the prohibition of torture and the right to an effective remedy and the peaceful enjoyment of possessions. The plaintiffs included two Grozny residents who claimed that relatives had been tortured and murdered by the Russian military in 2000. Two other cases involved allegations that Russian aircraft had indiscriminately bombed civilians fleeing Grozny in late 1999 and that the village of Katyr-Yurt was indiscriminately bombed in 2000, the Financial Times reported on February 25.

Amnesty International welcomed the rulings, saying that they were “a significant step” toward ending impunity for human rights violations in Chechnya “because they recognize that serious human rights violations have taken place and that the Russian Federation bears the responsibility.” Likewise, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) said it was “deeply gratified” by the European Court of Human Rights rulings “given the climate of impunity and lawlessness in the Chechen Republic.” More than 100 other cases involving alleged abuses by Russian military forces in Chechnya are reportedly pending before the Strasbourg court.