Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Russian Constitutional Court President Very Critical of Strasbourg Court

The president of Russia's Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, uttered very critical remarks at a forum in Saint Petersburg last Saturday. According to various press agencies (Itar Tass and Reuters) and newspapers (Kommersant) he indicated that Russia could withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. This follows statements by the Constitutional Court that it wants to introduce mechanisms to protect national sovereignty which would permit national authorities not to execute ECtHR judgments if they would be contrary to the Russian Court's judgments. All of this takes place after criticism in Russia of the Strasbourg Court's findings of human rights violations in a whole series of cases in the last few years and more specifically the recent judgment in Markin, a case in which the European Court found that Russia violated the ECHR by discriminating against male soldiers asking for parental leave, a case originally decided by Mr Zorkin's Constitutional Court. In addition, the judgment in the politically very sensitive Yukos / Khodorkovski / Lebedev case is forthcoming.

One may add, that anonymous sources within the Kremlin immediately played down Zorkin's remarks and qualified it as a "backwards step".


Mihai Martoiu Ticu said...

This would be a crime. In the 50's Australia proposed an International Court for Human Rights, during the negotiations for UDHR. Soviet Union (and the rest of the powerful states) rejected the idea, for the same reason. In 1947, “the attitude of Soviet Russia on the subject became so clear and well defined as to justify the view that in the foreseeable future no Russian participation in an enforceable international bill of rights could be expected.”(Lauterpacht, International law and human rights, p.300.) In 1989, Russia retracted all its reservations regarding human rights treaties and accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. It would be a pity if this leap forward would be undone.

Mihai Martoiu Ticu said...

I meant the compulsory jurisdiction in respect with the human rights treaties, not that Russia signed the optional clause of the ICJ.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.

It would be very helpful to read English translation of President's speech in response to Mr. Zorkin's statements.

I'll be very thankful for publication if it's possible.