June 8th, 2011

A toothless European Court of Human Rights?

Paul Gregory

In Paul Gregory’s latest analysis, “The Khodorkovsky Ruling: Something Fishy in Strasbourg?” he takes a closer look at the Court’s decision on Khodorkovsky’s claim that his 2003 arrest was an incidence of Article 18. Despite ruling that the arrest was illegal and Khodorkovsky was kept in inhumane conditions, the Court didn’t review the facts of the case to come to this decision. As Gregory writes,

Notably, the Strasbourg court did not review the facts of the case. It punted the football by basing its decision on fear of setting a precedent for others is a position similar to Khodorkovsky…It seems that Strasbourg declined to examine the facts for fear of a rash of other complaints concerning Russia, asserting political motivation. Their docket is already bursting at the seams.

The Court when making the determination about Article 18 stated,

While Mr. Khodorkovsky’s case might raise some suspicion as to what the real intent of the Russian authorities might have been for prosecuting him, claims of political motivation behind prosecution required incontestable proof, which had not been presented.”

Gregory suggests that “incontestable proof” is an “impossible standard” and concludes,

It seems as if Putin and his power ministry gang can rest easily. So far, the European Court of Human Rights has proven itself as paper tiger. Such a court might work for countries that have a reasonable rule of law, but it is citizens of the Zimbabwes, Russias, and Chinas of this world that require the protection of such an international court.”

Paul Gregory, a Hoover Institution research fellow, holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Economics at the University of Houston, Texas, and is a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. His most recent book is Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin’s Kremlin: The Story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina (Hoover Institution Press, 2010).

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