The European Court of Human Rights has merged the cases of Ukraine and the Netherlands vs. Russia and Ukraine vs. Russia (X) (the case of a full-scale invasion) into one proceeding. This decision was made by the Grand Chamber of the ECHR on February 17th 2023.
The interstate case “Ukraine and the Netherlands vs. Russia” concerns Russia’s human rights violations in the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014.
The application for a full-scale invasion “Ukraine vs. Russia (X)” was filed on June 23rd last year. It concerns Russia’s violations of human rights on the territory of Ukraine since 24.02.2022.
The Ministry of Justice explained the legal benefits of this decision for Ukraine:
- Speeding up the consideration of the case of a full-scale invasion.
- Optimization of the case consideration process.
A number of aspects of the two cases are similar and complementary. Murders, abductions, torture, destruction of property, discrimination based on language and views are all part of Russia’s official policy since 2014, which has continued in the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia after 24.02.2022.
- Study of the case by the ECHR in a more global context.
In the case of Ukraine and the Netherlands vs. Russia, a large amount of evidence has already been presented to understand the logic of Russia’s actions. It will be much easier for the ECHR to trace the deliberate policy of the Russian Federation aimed at the destruction of Ukrainians during the armed aggression.
- Efficiency and completeness of the decision.
The consolidation of cases will best show that numerous human rights violations by Russia during the large-scale invasion are not accidental. The ECHR will be able to clearly see that such violations had occurred long before February 24, 2022, and have only increased in scale and become more cynical in nature.
- Increasing the weight of the case before the international community.
In the first case, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a co-applicant with Ukraine, and in the case of the full-scale invasion, 26 states have already declared their willingness to join the case as third parties.
In general, the decision to consolidate the cases opens a new page in the history of the ECHR: the court has never considered such large-scale cases that are important for the international community and the international legal order as a whole.