Forcing the closure of Moldovan language schools in Transdniestria fell within Russia’s jurisdiction, human rights judges have declared.
In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Catan and Others v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia (application nos. 43370/04, 8252/05 and 18454/06), which is final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
no violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) to the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of the Republic of Moldova, and,
by 16 votes to one, that there had been
a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of the Russian Federation.
The case concerned the complaint by children and parents from the Moldovan community in Transdniestria about the effects of a language policy adopted in 1992 and 1994 by the separatist regime forbidding the use of the Latin alphabet in schools and the subsequent measures taken to enforce the policy.
Those measures included the forcible eviction of pupils and teachers from Moldovan/Romanian-language schools as well as forcing the schools to close down and reopen in different premises.
The Court found that the separatist regime could not survive without Russia’s continued military, economic and political support and that the closure of the schools therefore fell within Russia’s jurisdiction under the Convention. The Republic of Moldova, on the other hand, had not only refrained from supporting the regime but had made considerable efforts to support the applicants themselves by paying for the rent and refurbishment of the new school premises as well as for all equipment, teachers’ salaries and transport costs.
Just satisfaction (Article 41)
The Court held, by 16 votes to one, that Russia was to pay each applicant 6,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 50,000 for costs and expenses to all the applicants, jointly.