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ECtHR will hear Dutch case against Russia
Wreckage from flight MH17 Pic: Shutterstock

25 Jan 2023 / global news Print

ECtHR will hear Dutch case against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has decided to hear a case brought against Russia by the Dutch Government over the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines flight in 2014.

The downing of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine resulted in the deaths of 298 people – 196 of whom were Dutch nationals.

The Dutch Government alleges that Russia was responsible for the downing of flight MH17, that it did not carry out an effective investigation, and that its conduct after the event caused intense pain and suffering to the victims’ next of kin.

It is claiming that Russia has violated articles 2, 3, and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Russia ceased to be a party to the ECHR in September last year, but the court said that this did not release it from obligations contained in the convention in respect of any act performed before that date.

Russia’s ‘significant influence’

The ECtHR found that areas in eastern Ukraine in separatist hands were, from 11 May 2014 and up to at least 26 January 2022, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.

It referred to the presence in eastern Ukraine of Russian military personnel from April 2014, and the large-scale deployment of Russian troops from August 2014 at the latest.

The court also found that Russia had had “a significant influence” on the separatists’ military strategy, and that it had provided weapons and other military equipment to separatists “on a significant scale”, as well as carrying out artillery attacks at the separatists’ request.

Sufficient evidence

The ECtHR said that there was sufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof at the admissibility stage for the Dutch complaint.

The court also declared that a majority of separate complaints made by the government of Ukraine about the activities of separatists in eastern Ukraine were also admissible.

The court’s Grand Chamber will decide on the merits of the case at a later date.

Ireland’s Judge Síofra O’Leary was elected president of the court last September.

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