Janowiec and Others v. Russia: A Long History of Justice Delayed Turned into a Permanent Case of Justice Denied
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The European Court of Human Rights ruled on whether Russia is responsible for human rights violations in relation to the Katyń massacre. Two of the major issues that had to be dealt with were the Court’s competence ratione temporis to assess the violation of the procedural obligations related to the right to life, and whether the applicants could be considered victims of inhumane treatment because of the failure of Russian authorities to provide information on the fate and whereabouts of their relatives. If the first judgment issued by the Chamber on 16 April 2012 was criticized because of its restrictive approach, the one issued by the Grand Chamber on 21 October 2013 took an even more controversial turn. The reasoning of the Court does not seem to be particularly sound and the outcome is a denial of justice. The comparison with the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in similar cases makes this all the more evident, suggesting that the application of different interpretative criteria would have been possible.
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