The European Court of Human Rights On 11 August 2008, while Russian forces were heading to the Capital, Georgia applied to the European Court of Human Rights with a request for interim to the effect that the Russian Government should refrain from taking any measures which may threaten the life or state of health of the civilian population and to allow the Georgian emergency forces to carry out all the necessary measures in order to provide assistance to the remaining injured civilian population and soldiers via humanitarian corridor.
On 12 August 2008 the President of the Court, acting as President of Chamber, decided to apply Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (interim measures) considering that the current situation gives rise to a real and continuing risk of serious violations of the Convention. The interim measures were prolonged already twice by the Court on 26 August and 16 September respectively.
The Ministry of Justice is working on the inter-state Application that will be submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in due course.
Recent Developments Based on the information of the Civil Registry Agency of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, which is responsible for the registration of IDPs, approximately 20.000 Georgians are still refused to return to their homes in South Ossetia, adjacent villages and Kodori Gorge of Upper Abkhazia. Those that have returned live in constant fear and violence due to the fragile security situation in the Russian proclaimed buffer zone and/or the territories still under the Russian and Ossetian control.
Deliberate and targeted destruction of property left behind in the Georgian villages in South Ossetia continues. This policy of mass destruction of villages demonstrates intention to render the displacement of ethnic Georgians permanent. The continued destruction was documented by the representatives of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The report of 16-20 September 2008 notes that “In these particular villages, the mission could not locate a single house which had only been partially destroyed and would be considered as fit for habitation. According to the information provided to the mission, these villages had previously been inhabited by ethnic Georgians and controlled by Georgian forces. The UNOSAT images of the villages north of Tskhinvali taken on 19 August appear now to be only partial reflection of the current extent of property damage there.”19 The same report of the OCHA documented the burning of houses to take place even in September, 2008 by noting that “[t]he village of Avnevi in the Frone valley to the west of Tskhinvali also showed little sign of life, as all buildings appeared to have been burned. In Avnevi, the mission observed smoke rising from one ruin on 18 September, 2008, making it unlikely that it had been burned during the August conflict.”
Human Rights Watch in its report on September 16, 2008, reveals the new evidence of recent torching of homes in the village of Disevi, located east to Tskhinvali.20 As stated by Human Rights Watch in its letter of October 10, 2008 “based on our on-the-ground research, the homes in these villages were systematically looted and torched in August and September; some were completely bulldozed.21 Much the same information was reported by the Russian NGO ‘Memorial’ that carried out the fact finding mission on 12-23 October, 2008 in South Ossetia. According to their statements on October 17, 2008, they saw cars with Ossetian number plates in the village of Koshki (adjacent to Disevi) and witnessed taking of goods from the partially burnt down school.22 The new wave of torching houses reached the neighboring ethnically Georgian villages of Zardiaantkari and Gugutiaantkari in October.