The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has today handed down judgment in the first inter-State case brought using the special procedure of Article 33 of the Convention (i.e., one brought by one Member State of the Council of Europe against another) since the Court became a full time institution in 1998 and only the fourth such case ever to be brought before the Court. The case of Georgia v. Russia (I), application no. 13255/07 concerned the alleged existence of an administrative practice involving the arrest, detention and collective expulsion of Georgian nationals from the Russian Federation in the autumn of 2006.
In its judgment in the case, which is final, the Court held, by a majority, that there had been:
a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
a violation of Article 5 & 1 (right to liberty and security);
a violation of Article 5 & 4 (right to judicial review of detention);
a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment);
violations of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in conjunction with Article 5 & 1 and with Article 3; and
a violation of Article 38 (obligation to furnish all necessary facilities for the effective conduct of an investigation).
The Court found no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), no violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 7 (procedural safeguards relating to expulsion of aliens) and no violation of Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property and right to education).
However, having regard to the parties’ submissions, the statements by 21 witnesses it had examined during a hearing in Strasbourg, and the reports from various international organisations, the Court found that in the autumn of 2006, a coordinated policy of arresting, detaining and expelling Georgian nationals had been followed by the Russian authorities, which had amounted to an administrative practice incompatible with the Convention.
The application to the Court was prepared by Piers Gardner and Jeremy McBride on behalf of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.
To read the judgment in full, please click here.