Europe human rights court orders Russia to pay $143M in damages for 2008 Georgia conflict News
© WikiMedia (Adrian Grycuk)
Europe human rights court orders Russia to pay $143M in damages for 2008 Georgia conflict

The European Court of Human Rights on Friday ordered Russia to pay approximately 130 million euros ($143 million) in compensation to Georgia, almost 15 years after the war in the South Caucasus.

The case concerned allegations by the Georgian government that administrative practices by the Russian Federation amounted to breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention), in connection with the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation in August 2008.

In its judgment, the court was tasked with awarding damages on the basis of “just satisfaction.” Awarding money to applicants by way of just satisfaction is not a main duty of the court, but it does encompass its role under Article 19 of the Convention of ensuring that states comply with the Convention. The court can award these damages under Article 41, the purpose being to compensate the applicant for the actual harmful consequences of a violation.

In this judgment, the court found that there was still a basis to make an award under Article 41, despite the fact that Russia had ceased its membership with the Council of Europe, and failed to cooperate with the proceedings.

Ultimately, the court’s award was calculated based on various breaches of the Convention, which included:

  • Killing civilians in villages in South Ossetia and the “buffer zone”
  • Torching and looting of houses in the “buffer zone”
  • Arbitrary detention of Georgian civilians
  • Preventing the return of Georgian nationals to their respective homes in South Ossetia and Abkhazia
  • Failure to comply with a procedural obligation to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the deaths which had occurred during the active phase of the hostilities or after the cessation of hostilities

The court found that Russia’s practices amounted to “inhuman and degrading treatment” owing to the feelings of anguish and distress suffered by the victims, who, moreover, had been targeted as an ethnic group.

This decision follows on from the January 2021 Grand Chamber judgment in Georgia v. Russia (II), which held, among other things, that Russia’s invasion had breached the European Convention on Human Rights Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property), Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment), and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life).