CoE Committee of Ministers sitting in Strasbourg, France.

TBILISI, DFWatch–The Council of Europe (CoE) has urged  Russia to not delay further the payment of EUR 10 million damages to Georgia for human rights violations when thousands of Georgian citizens were expelled from Russia following a spy row between the two neighboring countries. 

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in 2014 that Russia violated the European human rights convention seven and a half years prior when it expelled thousands of Georgians in the wake of the expulsion of four Russian diplomats from Georgia who were suspected of spying.

But although Russia was found at fault, the payment of damages is still outstanding. In the resolution adopted on December 3, the CoE Committee of Ministers expressed “profound concern that the just satisfaction awarded by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the Georgia v. Russia (I) case has not yet been paid.”

The mass expulsion of Georgian citizens, which the ECHR case Georgia v Russia (I)  dealt with, took place from the end of September 2006 until the end of January 2007. In its 2014 judgment, the ECHR ruled that from October 2006, a coordinated policy of arresting, detaining and expelling Georgian nationals, amounting to an administrative practice, was implemented in the Russian Federation. 

The Strasbourg based court found Russia in violation ‘of the prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens and the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, and also of the right to liberty and security and the right to an effective remedy.’ In total, the court found that Russia violated six articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, also including the right to judicial review of detention, and the obligation to furnish all necessary facilities for the effective conduct of an investigation. 

In its just satisfaction judgment of 31 January 2019, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR held that, within three months, the Russian Federation was to pay the Government of Georgia (GoG) EUR 10 million in respect of non-pecuniary damages suffered by the group of at least 1,500 Georgian nationals, who were the individual victims of the violations. The court indicated that these amounts should be distributed by GoG to the individual victims under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers within 18 months of the date of the payment or within any other period considered appropriate by the committee.

Russia has delayed the payment, insisting on the need to identify the individual victims, the violations suffered and the sums due to them before the just satisfaction can be distributed by Georgia.

CoE, however, insists on the unconditional obligation under the human rights convention to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the court.