Thursday 9 February 2023

The ECtHR's Future Processing of Applications against Russia

In a number of recent decisions (most notably in Fedotova and Others v. Russia, Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia, Kutayev v. Russia and Svetova and Others v. Russia) the European Court of Human Rights has explained how it will deal with both pending and future applications against the Russian Federation. Russia ceased to be a party to the Convention on 16 September 2022, and the Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over any human rights violations committed after that date. As of 1 February 2023, there are 16730 pending applications (including both individual and inter-State applications) against Russia, and the Court has now provided clarity as to how it will deal with these pending and future applications. In essence, the Court has chosen for a solution that Professor Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou has described as the 'business as usual' model in an earlier guest post: the Court will continue to deal with all pending applications against Russia as it was doing before Russia's expulsion from the Council of Europe and its withdrawal from the Convention. The Court still has the competence to deal with all applications against Russia that concern human rights violations that occurred before Russia ceased to be a party to the Convention, as was confirmed by the Court for the first time in its Fedotova and Others v. Russia judgment of 17 January 2023. Furthermore, since the Russian judge Mikhail Lobov is no longer a member of the Court and the list of ad hoc Russian judges is not valid any longer, the Court confirmed in its judgments in Kutayev v. Russia, Svetova and Others v. Russia and Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia that it will appoint an ad hoc judge from among the sitting judges to examine the applications against Russia. Lastly, the Court clarified in Svetova and Others that it can continue to deal with the applications against Russia notwithstanding its non-participation in the proceedings.