Latvia has formally asked to join Ukraine’s case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over Moscow’s invasion, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The ECHR said in June that it had registered an official request by Ukraine against Russia, a rare procedure designed to establish human rights violations committed by Moscow since it sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.
Kyiv’s request concerns “allegations by the Ukrainian government of massive and flagrant human rights violations committed by the Russian federation in its military operations on the territory of Ukraine since 24 February 2022,” the court said at the time.
If the court accepts Riga’s petition made on Monday, Latvia will be granted third-party status.
“This is the first time that Latvia has exercised its rights under Article 36(2) of the Human Rights Convention to intervene as a third party in an ongoing international judicial case,” the Latvian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said that the measure was only used “in very rare circumstances”.
These are “usually in situations where there are serious concerns about systematic and ongoing human rights violations, including mass atrocities and human rights violations during armed conflicts”.
On March 15, Latvia’s security service opened a criminal investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine, citing articles in Latvia’s war crimes and crimes against humanity laws which have no territorial limitation.
After arriving in Latvia, Ukrainian refugees are told of their right to testify about what they witnessed during the Russian invasion, if their experience is relevant to the criminal investigation.
In the first four months of the probe, at least 49 refugees testified and two Ukrainian citizens were recognised as victims.