Tuesday 1 March 2022

ECHR issues interim measures concerning Russian military operations in Ukraine

Following a request made by Ukraine on 28 February, the European Court of Human Rights has today (1 March) issued interim measures concerning Russian military operations on Ukraine territory. 

The Court has "decided to indicate to the Government of Russia to refrain from military attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including residential premises, emergency vehicles and other specially protected civilian objects such as schools and hospitals, and to ensure immediately the safety of the medical establishments, personnel and emergency vehicles within the territory under attack or siege by Russian troops". The decision further indicates that the ongoing military actions of Russia in Ukraine give "rise to a real and continuing risk of serious violations of the Convention rights of the civilian population, in particular under Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Interim measures are urgent measures that aim to prevent an imminent risk of irreparable harm. As such, when the Court issues interim measures, a State party to the Convention is expected to instantly stop activities mentioned in interim measures. Yet, given the past practices of Russia's non compliance with interim measures in similar situations (e.g. 2014 in relation to Crimea), and its ongoing aggression in Ukraine one can hardly expect that Russia will comply with these interim measures. In fact, the mere fact that Russia is currently suspended from the Council suggests that the State is unwilling to comply not only with the Convention but also with the fundamental aims of the Council of Europe.