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2012 | Bill Bowring: ‘What Reparation Does a Torture Survivor Obtain from International Litigation? Critical Reflections on Practice at the Strasbourg Court’

in: The International Journal of Human Rights, Volume 16, Number 5, 1 June 2012 , pp. 755-772

Although the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is primarily a mechanism for the protection of individual human rights, many of the leading cases on violation of Article 3 have a collective or a structural dimension. In particular the author’s experience of many Kurdish and Chechen complaints against Turkey and Russia respectively is that they relate to the consequences of self-determination struggles and repressive state responses. A successful claimant at Strasbourg in most cases obtains a declaration that a violation has been committed by the government, and a sum of money in “just satisfaction”. Compared with the practice of the Inter-American Court, this is minimalist. The enforcement procedure through the Committee of Ministers, for general measures, is opaque and slow. The question remains: why do it? The author concludes that claims must continue to be brought, not least because this will simultaneously maintain the pressure to improve the system.