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Hague: Russia must halt Crimea repression, terrorism evidence lacking

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled on April 19 to reject the Ukrainian government’s request to impose provisional measures to halt Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, citing insufficient evidence of such support. Ukraine filed this request as part of the Hague Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The Ukrainian government had better success in its complaint against Russia for violating the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The court ordered Russia to halt any more measures restricting the activity of Crimean Tatar institutions, including the Mejlis. It also ordered that access be maintained to Ukrainian-language schools.


While acknowledging the ruling of lack of evidence as negative, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal stressed that the positive aspects of the ruling related to alleged terrorism. The court ruled that the crimes alleged by the Ukrainian government, including the financing of terrorism, fall within the convention’s purview and that it will rule on such complaints for the first time. In its opinion, the court recognized that the crimes alleged by the Ukrainian government led to a large number of civilian injuries and deaths.


Zenon Zawada: Given that this is the first time the convention of financing terrorism is being examined in a legal trial, we don’t see this ruling as the disaster for the Ukrainian government as Russophiles are making it appear. We still expect the court to ultimately rule in Ukraine’s favor in its complaints against the Russian government’s military and financial support for the separatist forces in Donbas. This ruling will take months, or years, to reach.


Afterwards, Ukrainian lawyers stressed that they now know what evidence will be more relevant in the hearings phase, which wasn’t clear beforehand because this case was the first time evidence was considered under this new convention on financing terrorism. It’s also worth considering that the same court rejected similar claims on financing terrorism made by the Georgian government. Indeed rather than being a setback, this ruling could give Ukraine’s lawyers the needed guidance on how to achieve success during the trial.

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