Strategic Litigation in the South Caucasus Region

INTERIGHTS has worked in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) for over a decade. From 2000-2005 we strengthened the capacity of local partners through a series of training sessions on strategic litigation: this was followed up from 2005-2011 through a regional project on strategic litigation which involved supporting local lawyers and NGOS to take cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), together with continued training around litigation.

At the beginning of 2011 INTERIGHTS started a new project building upon this work aimed at continuing to promote and protect fundamental rights and freedoms through strategic litigation in the region. In partnership with local lawyers, INTERIGHTS has an impressive portfolio of pending cases before the ECtHR. These strategically important cases from across the region address a range of fundamental rights and freedoms including right to life, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, torture and ill-treatment in custody, and arbitrary detention. More Information about these cases can be accessed here

INTERIGHTS also intervenes as amicus curiae in selected cases before the ECtHR, to both raise the level of legal protection afforded to people in the South Caucasus and progressively develop the ECtHR’s own jurisprudence
So far, we have received judgments in two cases. The first, Mikayil Mammadov v Azerbaijan, was a case taken by Mr Mammadov after his wife had committed suicide as her family were being evicted from their home by agents of the State. In December 2009, the ECtHR held that Azerbaijan was responsible for violating the right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to conduct an effective investigation into Mrs Mammadova’s death. To read more about this case, click here.

The second judgment was handed down in June 2010 in Garayev v Azerbaijan. The judgment was overwhelmingly positive, upholding all claims made by the applicant. The Court found that Mr Garayev, if extradited to Uzbekistan, would face a risk of torture in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECtHR also held that his detention pending extradition was unlawful and that his right to an effective remedy had been breached. To read more about this case, click here.

One of the most recent cases submitted to the ECtHR, together with Georgian human rights NGO Article 42 of the Constitution, is Aghdgomelashvili and Japaridze v Georgia which concerns the applicants’ homophobic ill-treatment by the police. Arguing violations of inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and /or interference in their private lives (Article 8 of the Convention) as well as discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation (Article 14 of the Convention; Article 1 of Protocol No 12), the application also places the incident within the wider context in Georgia where discriminatory practices towards LGBT individuals, a vulnerable group, regularly occur. To read more about the case click here.

Working with local lawyers and NGOs is key to our work in the region. We continue to successfully engage with a wide range of lawyers, NGOs and activists from across the region to raise awareness of the impact of strategic litigation and provide direct support to local lawyers bringing strategically important cases before domestic, regional and international bodies. The participating lawyers’ capacity to select and argue strategic cases is developed through two visits per country per year, during which INTERIGHTS delivers a training session devoted to a specific topic and discusses existing cases with lawyers.

For further details on our work in the region, contact Sophio Japaridze at

Our work in the South Caucasus has been funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Global Opportunities Fund of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Open Society Foundation.