|19 April 2004
The European Court of Human Rights is examining
situation with right to a fair trial and right to association in Russia
The European Court of Human Rights has admitted the application of non-governmental
organization Sutyajnik against Russia.
Sutyajnik has charged the Russian Federation with violation of the right
to a fair trial set by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Sutyajnik v. Russia case is significant for Russian NGOs
because of the 1995 law On Non-governmental Organizations which forced
all NGOs in Russia to undergo re-registration process. “This case is not
only about right to a fair trial. It's about right to association in Russia.
The main purpose of the Law was to get rid of active human right organizations”,
the President of Sutyajnik Sergey Beliaev said. “In those years if an NGO
had a record of criticism of the Government policy it would have had a
hard time when going though a re-registration process and ended up with
nothing. We have been fighting this practice for 8 years in domestic courts.
In the European Court the Government will not escape responsibility for
what it has done to all active human rights NGOs in Russia”, he added.
The facts of the case.
The applicant association is a non-governmental organization, which
was registered in 1994 by the Sverdlovsk Regional Department of Justice.
In 1995 a new law on non-governmental organizations was adopted. The law
required that all NGOs established before 1995 be re-registered before
1 July 1999. The applicant association applied twice for re-registration
to the Regional Department of Justice. However, their applications were
The applicant association brought an action against the Department seeking
its re-registration. On 17 June 1999 the Commercial Court of the Sverdlovsk
Region satisfied the applicant association's claim and ordered the Department
to register the applicant association. This decision was upheld by the
Federal Commercial Court of the Ural Circuit on 18 October 1999.
On an unspecified date the Vice-President of the Supreme Commercial
Court brought an extraordinary appeal (nadzor) against the decisions of
17 June and 18 October 1999.
On 26 September 2000 the Presidium of the Supreme Commercial Court of
the Russian Federation quashed the lower courts' decisions by way of supervisory
review on the ground that the dispute at issue was outside the competence
of the commercial courts. The proceedings were discontinued.
According to the applicant association, on several occasions it applied
to the Commercial Court of the Sverdlovsk Region with a view to initiate
enforcement proceedings against the Department, but to no avail. The applicant
association submits that it was informed about the decision of the Presidium
of the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation of 26 September
2000 only in November 2001.
Under Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, the Court sent the application
of Sutyajnik to the Government of Russia and invited it to submit the written
observations on the case by 7 April 2004.
Regarding the application of Sutyajnik, the Court requests the Government
to give comments on the following question: was there a breach of the applicant
association’s right to a court under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, as
a result of the quashing of the judgment of 17 June 1999 by way of the
The Government’s observations will be sent to Sutyajnik to submit written
observations in reply. What the Russian Government will declare about it,
will be known some weeks after 7 April 2004.
It would be fair to mention that on 28 October 2003, the European Court
of Human Rights ruled against the Russian Federation in Rakevich v Russia,
the case litigated by Sutyajnik. The Court decided that Russian legislation
and practice on psychiatric treatment, in particular regarding the placement
of individuals against their will in psychiatric institutions, did not
meet the required standards of the European Convention on Human Rights
(Short comments, video, and audio reports on the case from the European
Court of Human Rights are available at http://www.sutyajnik.ru/eng/news/2004/r_v_r.html
To access the letter from the President of the Chamber about a preliminary
examination of the admissibility of the application click on
in English http://www.sutyajnik.ru/rus/cases/sutyajnik_v_russia/communication_letter_eng.htm
in Russian http://www.sutyajnik.ru/rus/cases/sutyajnik_v_russia/communication_letter_rus.htm
Briefly about Sutyajnik. The human rights resource centre (NGO) Sutyajnik,
founded in Yekaterinburg in 1994, defends the rights and interests of non-governmental
public interest groups and provides free legal assistance to low income
citizens. Sutyajnik’s main areas of activities are http://www.sutyajnik.ru/eng
# # #
Rakevich v Russia Judgment in Russian >>>
in English >>>
News Agency Sutyajnik-Press
All press-relises on the case Rakevich
v Russia (zip 58 kb) >>>
Rakevich v Russia Admissibility Decision
in Russian >>>
in English >>>
Video and Audio Report on Rakevich v Russia
from the Court >>>