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Russia’s Exit from the ECHR: Halting Extraditions

Russia has recently exited the Council of Europe, bringing significant implications for the application of human rights principles. This article will explore the consequences of this move, highlighting the recent case where the Italian Cassation Court halted an extradition process and the concerns related to fundamental rights.

Russia’s Exit from the ECHR

Since September 16, 2016, Russia is no longer a contracting party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), following its withdrawal from the Council of Europe. This exit has raised serious concerns about adherence to fundamental human rights principles. The ECHR includes the right to a fair trial (Article 3) and the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 6), principles that Russia appears inclined to challenge.

The Cassation Court’s Decision

The Italian Cassation Court issued a significant ruling in which it blocked an extradition process requested by Russia. The case involves a Greek citizen born in Russia who opposed extradition after being accused of participating in a criminal organization. The Cassation Court emphasized the importance of carefully evaluating the conditions the extradited person will face upon delivery. In particular, they referred to the 2021-2022 Amnesty International report that highlighted the persistence of torture and mistreatment in Russia, with few judicial proceedings initiated against those responsible for such abuses.

Implications of the Ukraine Conflict

The conflict in Ukraine further complicates the situation. The Cassation Court traced the steps of Russia’s exit from the Council of Europe, highlighting the change in its position. This decision has direct implications for extraditions and raises questions about human rights guarantees in Russia.

ECHR Guarantees

Despite exiting the ECHR, Russian authorities have explicitly invoked Articles 3 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights as reference points to ensure that extraditions do not entail risks of torture or inhuman treatment. However, these provisions are now in question since Russia has abandoned the Convention.

Impact on the ECHR

Russia’s exit from the ECHR has a significant impact on the European Court of Human Rights, which serves as the court of last resort when domestic legal avenues are exhausted. Russian citizens will no longer be able to file appeals in Strasbourg, jeopardizing 24% of currently submitted cases, including those of dissidents like Alexei Navalny.

Russia’s exit from the ECHR has raised critical questions about the assurance of human rights and the application of fundamental principles in extradition proceedings. The Italian Cassation Court’s decision represents a significant development in this discussion, with implications extending well beyond national borders. The international community must closely monitor how this situation unfolds in the coming years.