The Netherlands and Ukraine are following Moscow on its actions ahead of February 2022 in eastern Ukraine.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it can hear cases brought by the Netherlands and Ukraine against Russia over violations in eastern Ukraine in 2014, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Wednesday’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) marks a major step forward in efforts by the Dutch and Ukrainian governments to hold Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine and could pave the way for compensation. The court said a decision on the merits of the cases would follow later.
The cases were discussed before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine at the end of February 2022.
“Great news: the decision of the European Court of Human Rights is another important step towards finding truth and justice for the victims and their family members who fled #MH17,” Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius said in a tweet.
Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam and was en route to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, amid fighting between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military, fueling the ongoing conflict. All 298 passengers and crew were killed.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra also welcomed the decision as an important step in the investigation.
“We will continue to do everything we can to achieve justice for all 298 victims of flight #MH17 and their loved ones,” he tweeted.
The court said that evidence presented last year in the case indicated that as of May 11, 2014, areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by separatist rebels were “in the hands of Russia” and that Moscow had “great support” the separatists. ”, including providing weapons, carrying out the crimes requested by the terrorists and supporting them politically and financially.
Moscow denies any involvement or responsibility in the downing of MH17 and in 2014 also denied involvement in Ukraine.
The ECtHR stated that there was sufficient evidence to support the admissibility of Ukraine’s numerous claims of human rights violations and the case related to the downing of MH17 brought by the Netherlands. It said that minor crimes were not accepted.
The Strasbourg Court is an important part of the European Commission for Human Rights, which is the largest human rights organization in the country. Russia was kicked out of the council last year in an unprecedented move because of the coup and Moscow’s war in Ukraine. However, the court can still deal with Russian cases from before the expulsion.
Marieke de Hoon, associate professor of international criminal law at the University of Amsterdam, said the EHCR’s wording “is very clear”.
“The court said today that there is now no doubt that since April 2014, Russian troops have been operating in Donbas,” said Al Jazeera, referring to the region in eastern Ukraine. “And because of that, Russia had a responsibility to guarantee human rights in the region.”
The Strasbourg proceedings are separate from those in the Netherlands where two Russians and Ukrainian rebels were found not guilty in November of multiple murder charges over the downing of MH17.
In its case at the human rights court, the Netherlands claims that Moscow played a major role in the downing of flight MH17 and says that Russia’s failure to investigate and lack cooperation with Dutch judges, as well as its denial of involvement, have added to the suffering. friends and relatives of the people who were killed.
Dutch prosecutors say the weapons that downed MH17 were sent to Ukraine from a military base in Russia and returned there after the shooting down.
Ukraine has filed charges against Moscow for numerous violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, including “unlawful military attacks on civilians that have resulted in mass casualties, including the shooting down of flight MH17, summary executions and beatings to death of civilians” by the military. participating in hostilities. It also said that Russia has abducted 85 Ukrainian children.