The ICJ finds Russia only partially guilty of financing terrorism and discrimination of Crimean residents

Дата: 01 February 2024
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The International Court of Justice has announced a verdict in the first case of Ukraine against Russia concerning the violation of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The court recognized that Russia partially violated its obligations to combat the financing of terrorists in the eastern regions of Ukraine in 2014. At the same time, the court rejected almost all of Ukraine’s claims against Russia regarding the oppression of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in occupied Crimea.

The verdict was announced by Judge Joan Donoghue, a ZMINA correspondent reports.

According to the ICJ, Russia violated Article 9 of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism: it ignored Ukraine’s requests. It did not investigate alleged cases of terrorist financing by its citizens in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

At the same time, the judges did not satisfy Ukraine’s other claims under the Convention. For example, the court characterized the concept of “financing of terrorism” surprisingly narrowly and limited it to actual monetary support. Thus, Ukraine’s claims that Russia had transferred weapons, including heavy weapons, to the militants were rejected as evidence of support to terrorists. 

In its lawsuit, Ukraine also emphasized that Russia should have frozen assets suspected of being used to finance terrorists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, the court did not satisfy this demand.

“The Russian Federation did not have reasonable grounds to suspect that the funds in question were used to finance terrorism and, accordingly, had no obligation to freeze them,” Donoghue said.

The International Court of Justice also refused to rule on Russia’s alleged responsibility for the downing of a passenger Boeing from non-government-controlled areas on July 17, 2014.

The judges also did not award the compensation demanded by Ukraine from Russia.

The second part of the Ukrainian lawsuit concerned the violation of the Conventions on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. According to Ukraine’s position, since the occupation of Crimea in 2014, Russia has systematically oppressed Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians who remain on the peninsula.

The judges of the International Court of Justice said they found no signs of racial discrimination against Crimean Tatars or Ukrainians in Russia’s actions in Crimea.

“The evidence presented did not convince the court that Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians were subjected to acts of physical violence based on their ethnicity. Any adverse impact on the rights of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians can be attributed to their political opposition to the Russian Federation’s behavior in Crimea,” Donoghue said.

The court partially satisfied one claim of Ukraine regarding violating the Convention on Discrimination. The judges found that Russia had violated the right of children in Crimea to study in Ukrainian. However, no such decision was made regarding the Crimean Tatar language.

As a reminder, the International Court of Justice is considering another case of Ukraine against Russia. It concerns Russia’s violation of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. In this lawsuit, Ukraine does not accuse Russia of genocide. Still, it points out that Russia itself has wrongfully accused the Ukrainian authorities of genocide and, under this pretext, launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The court is now considering Russia’s objections – its representatives are trying to prove that the subject matter of the dispute does not exist at all. Therefore, the ICJ cannot consider this case.

The judges will decide on the legality of the case on February 2.

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