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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Instant response from the European Court

A victim of violent dispersal of Euromaidan protesters in the early hours of November 30 applied to the European Court of Human Rights requesting it to institute interim measure protecting Ukrainians’ right to peaceful protest. Should the court grant his request, the government of Ukraine will be prohibited from using force against peaceful protesters
11 February, 2014 - 11:41

Ihor Sirenko first went to Euromaidan on November 29. In the early hours of November 30, he was among victims of riot police’s brutal dispersal of peaceful protesters who had gathered near the stele in Independence Square. Like many of the protesters, he was beaten and then detained. As the Ukrainian judicial system is currently distrusted by citizens, the victim decided to apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). He had the right to do so as law-enforcement actions were illegal and violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment, right to liberty and security, right to freedom of assembly and association, and right for an effective remedy).

He filed his application with the ECtHR on January 28, and as soon as February 1, president of the section tasked with his case decided that it will be considered as a priority one, that is, as soon as possible, because Sirenko’s application reflected the situation in Ukraine as a whole, with the fate of many peaceful protesters similar to his. This instant response of the ECtHR has created a precedent, experts say, because applications are generally considered within a year.

“In this case, we are talking about the importance of the issue. It deals with obvious facts that indicate a threat to life or health, in this case of the protesters, so we have this quick response, this decision to prioritize our application,” independent MP Yurii Derevianko explained. He represents Sirenko at the ECtHR. “Our application is supported by relevant documents and photographs that explain what had happened to him. In my view, such a quick response from the court is a positive, as I represent a few people with similar applications. I believe they will all be combined into one case.”

The ECtHR’s message to the government of Ukraine asks it to present written observations on the Sirenko case by February 28. In fact, the government has been asked to explain why Ukraine is witnessing gross violations of human rights. The Cabinet has no choice but comply with this request, as it is a duty of Ukraine under the European Convention on Human Rights.

If the ECtHR grants Sirenko’s request, the government of Ukraine will be prohibited from using force against peaceful protesters. “Basically, there are two demands in our application. Firstly, to refrain from using force or other coercive measures that may apply to all the protesters. Secondly, to allow them all to stay in those places and areas they currently occupy, in order to continue peaceful protest,” Derevianko said. “An additional demand concerns safe conditions in these areas throughout the protest. Essentially, this means interim measure to prevent dispersal of the protesters, that is, a ban on the use of force or other coercive measures against protesters.”

There is one more demand which Derevianko called a primarily technical one. It concerns compensating people who were victims of the November 30 events. Still, the case focuses on so-called interim measures that may guarantee the protesters’ safety.

By Inna LYKHOVYD, The Day