Lawyer Ben Emmerson: ECHR found Russia guilty of Georgian civilians' ethnic cleansing
Lawyer Ben Emmerson: ECHR found Russia guilty of Georgian civilians' ethnic cleansing

“The European Human Rights Court has found Russia guilty of a widespread campaign of ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia, which included the arbitrary murders of a large number of ethnic Georgian civilians, looting, burning and destruction of homes”, Ben Emmerson, Georgia’s British lawyer echoed the ECHR judgment in Georgia v. Russia war case.

“In the Judgment issued this morning, the court has found Russia guilty of a widespread campaign of ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia, which included the arbitrary murders of a large number of ethnic Georgian civilians, looting, burning, and destruction of homes. Unlawfully arbitrary detention of ethnic Georgians in detention facilities where they were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, including, for example, being forced to collect dead bodies and bury them in mass graves, is reminiscent of the concentration camps. The court has also found widespread torture of prisoners of war, and it is worth saying something about that. Evidence shows that more than 30 prisoners of war were tortured after they being captured by enemy forces. Two of them were executed and one was beaten to death. In addition to the beatings, the evidence shows one prisoner had his ear cut off, several were subjected to “mock executions”, the number of prisoners was tortured with lighters causing serious burns, some had their fingers deliberately broken, one was repeatedly stabbed in the leg, one had his teeth removed with pliers, one was subjected to strangulation with rubber straps, and one was tortured with electrocution”, Ben Emmerson said.

As the lawyer noted, ECHR found Russia was responsible for the expelling ethnic Georgian from the territory and preventing their return, effectively altering the ethnic composition of south Ossetia. He said that 20,000 ethnic Georgians remain internally displaced as a result of the Russian occupation.

“It is hard to think that the timing of this judgment is a coincidence. The judgment was adopted by the court in July of last year. The court held the delivery of the judgment back for some time and has delivered it the day after the inauguration of President Biden, who has made it very clear that he intends to take a robust stand against Russian aggression and unlawful interference. It comes on backdrops to another decision of European Court of Human Rights concerning the Russian occupation of Crimea, and together these cases show that the European Court is finally, after a long time, dealing with these cases getting tough on Russia”, Ben Emmerson added.

Earlier today, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered its judgment in the inter-State case of Georgia v. Russia (II) concerning the August War 2008. The Court concluded that “the events occurring after the cessation of hostilities – that is, following the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 – had fallen within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. It found a number of violations of the Convention.

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