“Devastating Decision”: Ukraine Won the Case against Russia on Crimea! The European Court of Human Rights Found Russia Guilty of Human Rights Violations in Crimea

On 25 June 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Russian authorities responsible for numerous human rights violations on the Peninsula since its annexation in 2014. In its case (on Crimea), Ukraine blames Russia for systematic violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in Crimea. The European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that it includes article 2 (the right to life), article 3 (freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment), article 5 (the right to liberty and security of the person), article 6 (the right to a fair trial), article 7 (no punishment without law), article 8 (the right to respect your private and family life), article 9 (freedom of religion), article 10 (freedom of expression), article 11 (freedom of assembly), article 14 (protection from discrimination), article 18 (the limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights and a number of other articles.

These violations include persecution of Crimean Tatars, unlawful arrests, torture, murder, and other crimes. The Court confirmed that Russian troops and its formations actively participated in these actions. This decision is a real milestone in the international legal struggle to recognize Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The deplorable situation in the medical sector of Crimea after the annexation by Russia should be mention here.

After the annexation of Crimea (February 2014) and the subsequent full-scale invasion of Ukraine (February 2022), the medical situation on the Peninsula has worsened significantly. Each year, there are more and more problems with the quality of medical services and access to them, which threatens the health and life of the local population. According to Human Rights Watch reports, there are a shortage of equipment (about 30 %), medicines and qualified specialists in the medical institutions in Crimea due to the isolation of the Peninsula and economic sanctions against Russia. Patients are forced to wait long for their turn to see a doctor, due to a lack of health care workers. At the same time, Russian authorities limit access to international medical and humanitarian organizations, making it impossible to improve the medical situation on the Peninsula.

Ukrainian doctors and medical specialists left Crimea en masse after the annexation, being not ready to work under the control of the Russian authorities. This has led to a shortage of specialists in surgery, cardiology and oncology. Those who remain are forced to work in conditions of constant stress and overload, which negatively affects the quality of the services provided.

Russian authorities are using medical resources and facilities for the needs of their occupying army, depriving the civilian population of medical care. The example is the 1472nd Naval Clinical Hospital in Sevastopol, which previously were both for military and civilian patients. Since the spring of 2022, the hospital is no longer available for civilians, serving exclusively for wounded soldiers. In other cities, such as Simferopol and Saki, hospitals have also been repurposed for the needs of the Kremlin’s army, leading to a shortage of beds and equipment for civilian patients.

Russia bears direct responsibility for the humanitarian crisis it created in the occupied territories of Ukraine. Only the speedy liberation of the Ukrainian occupied territories will allow the restoration of normal living conditions for the Ukrainian people. The international community must support Ukraine in its fight against unprovoked Russian aggression. International military support is critical to ensure the rapid liberation of Ukrainian occupied territories. After all, this not only contributes to the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but also saves the lives of civilians who die and are injured every day in shelling and bombing of peaceful Ukrainian cities by the Kremlin’s troops.