Applying to the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter – the ECHR) is currently one of the most discussed ways of potential compensation for damages caused by the russian military invasion. Starting from 24 February 2022 Ukrainian businesses and citizens are applying to the ECHR with claims against russia regarding the destruction and damage of property, the death of relatives, injuries, torture, etc.
So, at what time is it possible to apply to the ECHR against russia?
It is important that on 16 March 2022, russia was excluded from the Council of Europe. For war-affected applicants, this means that they will be able to apply to the ECHR only in relation to a violation of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter – the Convention) that occurred before 16 September 2022. This is determined by the provision of Article 58 of the Convention, according to which the russian federation will cease to be a contracting party to the Convention from 16 September 2022.
In a resolution dated 22 March 2022, the ECHR confirmed that it will consider claims filed against russia regarding alleged violations of the Convention, if such violations were committed before 16 September 2022.
In addition, the applicant must comply with the 4-month period of appeal to the ECHR provided for in Article 35 of the Convention. As a general rule, 4 months are counted from the moment of exhaustion of all national remedies. However, in the case of russia, the absence of effective national remedies is obvious. This allows applicants to immediately apply to the ECHR within four months of the occurrence of an event that violates the rights guaranteed by the Convention (for example, from the moment of destruction or damage to a residential building, or other property) or from the date when the applicant became aware of such an event or its adverse effects.
At the same time, it is widely believed that claims to the ECHR filed after 16 September 2022 will not be considered by the court. It should be noted that the ECHR has not yet expressed itself on this matter, and it is more likely that relevant applications regarding violations that occurred before 16 September 2022, and which were submitted after that date within the 4-month period of appeal to the ECHR, will still be considered by the court. However, to avoid risks, we recommend, if possible, to submit claims regarding damage caused by russian military aggression by 16 September 2022, that is, by the time when russia will still be considered a contracting party to the Convention.