Tbilisi to Ask UN Court to End Abuses

THE HAGUE -- Georgia will seek a ruling from the UN's highest court in the Hague on Monday ordering Russia to stop what it claims are human rights violations against ethnic Georgians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

In an emergency three-day hearing at the International Court of Justice, which investigates disputes between nations, Georgia will also ask that Russia allow the safe return for Georgian refugees.

The court is expected to give a provisional order or injunction within three weeks if it decides that it has jurisdiction to hear the case. Rulings have recently become binding, legal experts said.

Last month, Georgia filed a suit to demand that Russia withdraw troops and pay damages, alleging that Russia violated an anti-discrimination convention during three interventions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia from 1990 to August 2008.

Cases heard by the court sometimes take years to resolve, but Georgia's ambassador to the Netherlands said she was hoping for a swift decision.

"We know such procedures can take years, and we are also very patient," Ambassador Maia Panjikidze said. "I believe the court will not take as long to act as in other cases because the situation on the ground is really very difficult now and we need a decision very soon because the population is suffering."

Legal experts said that in its defense, Russia might question the jurisdiction of the court, dispute Georgia's claims that ethnic discrimination is occurring or argue the situation is beyond its control.