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Legislating Lawlessness

Somebody from Freedom House wrote an op/ed in the Moscow Times about Russia’s moves to water down its responsibilities before the European Court of Human Rights.

Georgy Matyushkin, Russia’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights, believes that cases already submitted to the court would be retracted and sent back for review by Russian courts. This includes thousands of cases that deal with counterterrorist operations in the North Caucasus, particularly in Chechnya. The law could also prevent any future cases from reaching the European court.

Simply put, the new law has the potential to cut off the world from knowing about the impunity and lawlessness in the North Caucasus. (…)

According to Memorial, there are up to 5,000 people missing from the second Chechen war alone. So far, the European Court of Human Rights has made rulings on only several dozen of these cases because of a severe backlog.

By passing a law that would keep thousands of cases from potentially reaching the Strasbourg court, Russia would save millions of dollars in compensation that it wouldn’t have to pay. More important, however, the Kremlin is hoping that this law will allow Russia to be dropped from Council of Europe’s list of the worst human rights offenders.