Europe rights court finds abuses in Maidan protests

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Jan. 21 unanimously held that there had been multiple violations of the European Convention on Human Rights during the 2013-14 Maidan protests in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities that led to the removal and flight of President Viktor Yanukovych. The court gave judgments in five cases having a total of 38 applicants who were either present at or played a role in the protests. They had all faced the police or non-state agents under police control (or titushky), and alleged police brutality, unjustified detention, and the denial of their right to protest.

The court found multiple violations of Articles 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the Convention. It also found single violations of Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life).

The ECHR stated that law enforcement officials and non-state agents had used “excessive and sometimes brutal force” against peaceful protesters, resulting in the escalation of violence. The court particularly noted the use of stun grenades, tear-gas and plastic bullets for crowd control or dispersal. Many protestors at the Maidan vigil were beaten to the point of losing consciousness. The court said that such interference in the enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly was “disproportionate and unwarranted in a democratic society,” and discouraged participation in open political debate.

The court also stated that “much of the ill-treatment had been a deliberate strategy on the part of the authorities.” Investigation is still pending in many cases of alleged abuse by authorities, including police officers and judges. The ECHR found that the Ukrainian state has failed to investigate these claims adequately or expediently. The ruling held Ukraine liable to pay pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to some of the applicants, as well as costs and expenses as set out in the judgments.

From Jurist, Jan. 23. Used with permission.

Photo: Sasha Maksymenko via Flickr