This is cross-posted from Justice in Conflict, where it was first published on 31 October 2013.
The Katyń massacre took place between April and May 1940 when 20,000 thousand Polish officers and officials were executed by NKVD, the Soviet special police. After decades of denial, Russia publicly acknowledged Soviet responsibility for the massacre in 1990. But the entire truth about what happened in the forests of Katyń has remained out of reach. Many believe Russia has not done enough in coming clean about the massacre.
Last week, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR delivered its final decision in Janowiec et al. v. Russia (other comment here). The case before the ECHR concerned the quality of investigations conducted by Russian authorities into the Katyń massacre. These started in 1990 and ceased in 2004, following the decision of the Russian authorities to re-classify as “top-secret” 36 volumes of files and to discontinue the investigation. The applicants before the Court argued that Russian authorities breached their rights by failing to carry out an effective investigation into the death of their relatives and displayed a dismissive attitude towards the applicants’ requests for information about their relatives’ fate.