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July 10, 2020

Today, the Dutch government decided to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for its role in the downing of Flight MH17. By submitting an inter-State application, the government is sharing all available and relevant information about the downing of Flight MH17 with the ECHR.

The contents of the inter-State application will also be incorporated into the Netherlands’ intervention in the individual applications submitted by the victims’ next of kin against Russia to the ECHR. By taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support to these individual cases.

What is more, by submitting this inter-State application, the Netherlands stands by all 298 MH17 victims, of 17 different nationalities, and their next of kin.

‘Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority,’ said foreign minister Stef Blok. ‘By taking this step today – bringing a case before the ECtHR and thus supporting the applications of the next of kin as much as we can – we are moving closer to this goal.’

The UN Security Council will be notified of this step as well.

The government attaches importance to continuing the meetings with Russia on the matter of state responsibility. The purpose of these meetings is to find a solution that does justice to the enormous suffering and damage cause by the downing of Flight MH17.

Nearly six years since the downing of Flight MH17, which killed all 298 people on board, the pursuit of truth, justice and accountability remains the top priority for the Dutch government. The government has always said that it would not rule out any legal remedy to achieve this goal. This latest course of action brings us one step closer.

What is the European Court   for Human Rights and why does the Netherlands file a complaint here?
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is located in Strasbourg. After the downing of flight MH17, several relatives filed individual complaints  against Russia. A first group of relatives filed a complaint on 6 May 2016.
The next of kin hereby ask the judges of the ECHR to assess whether Russia in its role in the downing of flight MH17 has violated its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). These individual complaint procedures were formally dealt with last year.
The Netherlands is now submitting a so-called state complaint against Russia to the ECHR. The cabinet has a great deal of information about the downing of flight MH17. By now starting a case against Russia, this information will also become available for the cases of the next of kin. In this way, the Netherlands can best support the affairs of the next of kin. In addition, the Netherlands represents all 298 victims of the downing of flight MH17 and their relatives.

Why did the Netherlands not go to the European Court of Human Rights before because of MH17?
The Netherlands considers it very important that justice should be done for the victims of MH17 and their  relatives, and has not ruled out any legal means from the outset to achieve this goal.
The cabinet has continuously investigated the legal options and carefully weighs the right steps at the right time.
The  cabinet wants to provide maximum support to the next of kin. Partly in view of the ongoing proceedings at the ECHR with regard to the downing of flight MH17, the government is now submitting a state complaint against Russia to the ECHR. In this way, the Cabinet is submitting all currently available and relevant information to the ECHR and thereby supporting the next of kin in their affairs.

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