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Georgians Lodge Suit Against Russia at ECHR over August War
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Feb.'10 / 14:17

134 Georgian citizens lodged complaints to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last week, claiming that Russia violated number of European human rights laws against them during the 2008, August war.

Tbilisi-based Georgian young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and its London-based partner European Human Rights Advocacy Center (EHRAC), acting on behalf of the 134 applicants, said the applications primarily concern cases of shelling and air attacks on villages; destruction of property and the killing or injuring of civilians and the deliberate burning and looting of houses.

The applications, which are in 34 groups, originate from the Georgian villages within the breakaway South Ossetia and the surrounding areas (Achabeti, Argvitsi, Atsriskhevi, Avlevi, Berula, Brotsleti, Dzartsemi, Dvani, Eredvi, Kekhvi, Kere, Kitsnisi, Ksuisi, Kurta, Satskheneti, Tkviavi, Vanati, Zardiaantkari and Zemo Khviti), as well as from the town of Gori.

“These cases raise important questions about the applicability of the ECHR to a conflict situation, and they will also test the ‘reach’ of the ECHR - the applicants are asking the Court to find Russia responsible for violations perpetrated by its armed forces outside Russian territory,” EHRAC said.

“The Court will also be asked to decide that the Russian Federation was responsible both for the actions of its armed forces and of Ossetian militia.”

The complaints have been lodged against Russia based on the principle of “effective control”, which the Russian forces have been exerting on the territories concerned, Natia Katsitadze, a lawyer with GYLA, told Civil.Ge

Last January, ECHR said it had examined seven applications lodged against Georgia in connection with the August war and the Chamber decided to give priority to these applications.

These applications were lodged by six residents of South Ossetia and a member of the Russian armed forces attached to the peacekeeping troops in Tskhinvali, according to ECHR.

In these cases the applicants claim violation of their or their close relatives’ right to life, inhuman or degrading treatment, interference with the right to respect for private and family life and home, damage to property or its destruction, absence of an effective domestic remedy and discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin.

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