Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgia Files Ethnic Cleansing Case Against Russian Federation

Tuesday, August 12 • 18:15 CET

Georgia Files Ethnic Cleansing Case Against Russian Federation at International Criminal Court

The Hague, Netherlands The Government of Georgia has today filed a complaint at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, against the Russian Federation for alleged acts of ethnic cleansing, conducted on Georgian sovereign territory between 1993 and 2008.

The case has been filed on Georgia's behalf by its legal adviser, Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Mr Akhavan is a world renowned expert on the issue of war crimes and international law in relation to atrocities. He was the first Legal Adviser to the Prosecutor's Office at the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and played a key role in developing its foundational jurisprudence.

The Application is based on a UN Human Rights treaty and claims that beginning in the 1990s until the recent military invasion of Georgia, Russia has supported the violent ethnic cleansing of Georgians by separatist forces from the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, through the supply of weapons, recruitment of mercenaries, and direct military intervention by Russia's own armed forces, resulting in large-scale atrocities against Georgian civilians.

Since the ceasefires of the 1990s, Russian peacekeepers have consistently denied the right of return of 300,000 internally displaced persons, and recent Russian moves to dismember Georgia's territory by recognizing the separatist authorities, and the recent full-scale Russian invasion of Georgia, are intended to make both the ethnic demography of the separatist territories and their independence permanent.

Georgia requests the Court to declare that Russia has acted contrary to international law, that it must refrain from any further support for the separatist authorities including withdrawal of all its forces from Georgia, and that Russia must pay compensation to Georgia for its unlawful acts.

Professor Akhavan said: "This historic case is an expression of Georgia's confidence that its cause is just under international law. Russian propaganda has consistently accused Georgia of aggression and genocide. It will now become apparent before the Court that without doubt, the people of Georgia have been the victims of Russia's support for separatism and ethnic cleansing. If Russia has any respect for international law, it will bring its differences to the Court rather than imposing its will by violence against a much smaller neighbor."

For further information, please call James Hunt on +32 486 978 947