European Court of Human Rights: Win for the right to truth about human rights atrocities

European Court of Human Rights: Win for the right to truth about human rights atrocities - Transparency

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ARTICLE 19 welcomes the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in a group of cases concerning the right to truth about historical atrocities in Russia. The Court found that the Russian government’s restrictions on accessing archival documents and information violated individuals’ and researchers’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information. This decision is important in cementing recognition that access to information encompasses the right of relatives of victims of gross human rights violations and researchers to access historical archives about past atrocities. 

The case Suprun and Others v. Russia is a grouping of cases dealing with the Russian authorities’ denial of access to archives regarding Soviet political repression, and the prosecution of applicants for accessing such archives for research purposes on the grounds of privacy. 

ARTICLE 19 submitted a third-party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) earlier in 2024, in Dupuy and Others v. Russia – one of the cases included in today’s decision. 

ARTICLE 19 appreciates that the Court took our submission into consideration in its decision. In particular: 

  • The Court agreed with our argument that seeking historical truth is “an integral part of freedom of expression” and that historical information is a matter of public interest that deserves the same high levels of protection guaranteed to political expression.  
  • The Court also noted that privacy concerns are not sufficient to justify the limitation of access to archival information where the information sought is concerning the historical period rather than the private lives of living individuals.  
  • The Court recognised the public interest value to researchers, victims and their families, and society at large of making information about historical atrocities accessible.

This decision is important in further clarifying the scope of the right to information the context of historical memory and reconciliation in the aftermath of atrocities.