According to a recent article:

The case concerned an incident during blogger Alexander Lapshin’s imprisonment in Azerbaijan in 2017 for visiting Nagorno Karabakh. “The authorities asserted that the incident had been a suicide attempt, while the applicant alleged it had been attempted murder. The applicant was resuscitated and hospitalised in an intensive-care unit. The following day the applicant was pardoned by the President of Azerbaijan and, upon his discharge from hospital three days later, was expelled to Israel”, the ECHR said.
The Court held that Azerbaijan was to pay the applicant 30,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage.

Looking at other European Court of Human Rights cases, this seems to be in line with what they usually award to victims of gross state misconduct. But why are the amounts so low? Surely 30 thousand Euros is a tiny amount for a government to pay out?

  • 2
    Frankly, if the damages typically awarded were higher, a lot of the [47] CoE countries probably would not have signed up to the Convention. Commented May 21, 2021 at 10:15
  • @Fizz if you have time to find some sources that could turn into a great answer :) Commented May 21, 2021 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


I don't know about all 47 member states but several ECHR member states (e.g. Germany or France) do not award punitive damages. It doesn't really matter whether the amount is large or small for the state (or, in civil matters, for a private party), it's not intended to change its behaviour. The ECHR follows a similar logic, it even published a brief explainer about this. Consequently, you would expect higher damages for permanent disabilities or long periods of detention but not for injuries that required ”only” three days in a hospital, no matter how egregious the violation was.

Perhaps counterintuively, the highest damages have not been awarded for injuries to life, limb, or health or cases of torture but in a tax evasion case because, in the court's logic, there is a quantifiable economic damage (and many shareholders). That said, even for purely compensatory damages, the amounts I came across do seem a little low and the court has been accused of awarding lower damages to applicants from poorer countries.


Damages are not punitive, they are compensation to the victim for their losses. As such, they do not depend on the defendant's ability to pay.

Note that in this case the only thing considered in the damages was the lack of investigation of the incident that sent Lapshin into the hospital, not the incident itself of Lapshin's imprisonment. That is what he is being paid for.

  • 1
    It depends, there is such a thing as “punitive damages”, not for the ECHR though.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 21, 2021 at 8:11

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