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Flight MH17: European Court of Human Rights to hear the Netherlands’ inter-State application against the Russian Federation

NETHERLANDS, June 10 - News item | 10-06-2024 | 09:30

On 12 June 2024 the European Court of Human Rights will consider the Netherlands’ inter-State application against the Russian Federation regarding the downing of flight MH17. The hearing will take place in Strasbourg.

This hearing is the next step towards achieving justice.

At a later date, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will give judgment on the responsibility the Russian Federation bears for the deaths of all persons on board flight MH17 and for the suffering that the next of kin have experienced and continue to experience as a result of the Russian Federation’s actions. It will likely be another year before a judgment is handed down.

On 25 January 2023, at the hearing on the admissibility of the inter-State application, the ECtHR ruled that the Russian Federation exercised jurisdiction in eastern Ukraine when flight MH17 was shot down. In doing so, the ECtHR became the first international court to confirm Russia’s involvement in the downing of the aircraft.

The European Court of Human Rights and flight MH17

The purpose of the ECtHR is to hold states to account for human rights violations. Both states and individuals can lodge applications with the ECtHR. In 2020, the Netherlands lodged an application with the ECtHR against the Russian Federation regarding Russia’s role in the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch nationals, lost their lives.

MH17: the Netherlands’ application against Russia

The Netherlands argues that the Russian Federation played an important role in the downing of flight MH17. It also believes that the Russian Federation did not investigate the matter sufficiently and did not cooperate sufficiently with Dutch authorities’ requests for information. According to the Netherlands, this, and the fact that the Russian Federation continues to deny any involvement in the downing of flight MH17, has caused the victims’ next of kin additional suffering. What’s more, there were no legal remedies available to the next of kin in Russia itself.

The Netherlands’ inter-State application is being heard jointly with a number of inter-State applications lodged by Ukraine against the Russian Federation. Those applications concern actions by the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The last application to be added to this group of cases was Ukraine’s inter-State application against the Russian Federation regarding the war in Ukraine since February 2022.

Next step towards justice

The hearing of 12 June 2024 on the downing of flight MH17 is an important step towards establishing the truth, holding the perpetrators accountable and achieving justice for all the victims and their next of kin. The parties involved in the application and the intervening third parties – including the next of kin – will have the opportunity to present their views at the hearing. The court will not give judgment immediately after the hearing. The ECtHR has handled the case expeditiously, but it will likely be another year before a judgment is handed down.

The hearing will be held on Wednesday 12 June 2024 from 9.00 at the ECtHR in Strasbourg and is open to the public. A video recording will be made available after the hearing.

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