The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Russia for acts of torture and ill-treatment in the immediate aftermath of its war with Georgia in 2008 , when Moscow sent troops to the separatist region of South Ossetia to fight the Georgian Army.
After the fighting, which lasted five days, Moscow recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and established military bases there. The ruling does not impose any sanction
In a landmark ruling 13 years after the conflict, the Strasbourg-based court ruled that Russia exercised effective control over the separatist regions of Georgia after the hostilities and was therefore responsible for ill-treatment and torture against more than 30 Georgian prisoners of war, arbitrary arrests of Georgians and “inhuman and degrading treatment” of 160 Georgian civilians, held and crowded for more than two weeks in August 2008 in those territories.
The magistrates also allege that Moscow failed to investigate war crimes and “systematic abuses” of human rights and that it prevented the return of 20,000 Georgians who had lived in the separatist regions and whose villages were razed. The court ordered Moscow to investigate human rights violations during and after hostilities.
The Strasbourg Court ruling may open the way for prosecution against Russia for abuses in South Ossetia but it may also set a precedent for Russian responsibility in other regions, including eastern Ukraine, observers have noted.
Georgia had led Russia to be accused of violating the European human rights convention during the war and afterwards, although Strasbourg has only considered the subsequent events when determining that since Russia was the main supporter and sponsor of the separatists, the incidents took place in the Russian “de facto” jurisdiction. Moscow assures that all the accusations of abuse are false and that if there was any violation it took place outside its jurisdiction.
Although only part of their requests were recognized, Georgian President Salomé Zurabishvili called the ruling “historic”. Georgia “was recognized as a victim of this war and it is an achievement for our country, our history and our future,” he said.
President Salome Zurabishvili called the court ruling a victory and described it as “historic”. “Georgia was recognized as a victim of this war and it is a great achievement for our country, our society, our history and our future,” he said.