The European Court decided the first cases from the North Caucasus in early 2005, and the Committee of Ministers has been monitoring their implementation since October 2005. Periodically, the Secretariat issues information documents to aid the Committee in its monitoring of Russia’s compliance with the judgments. Thus far, all of the judgments against Russia from the North Caucasus have been grouped together and are known collectively as the “Khashiyev and Akayeva group,” or simply, as the “Chechen judgments.” In June 2015 there were over 220 cases in this group. One judgment, Tangiyev v Russia, concerning torture in Chechnya, is being monitored by the Committee under the Mikheyev group, which is a group of judgments against Russia concerning torture in police custody.
Since it began monitoring implementation, the Committee has maintained several general observations regarding the individual and general measures required to implement the judgments on the national level. In relation to individual measures, the Committee has echoed the stance taken in regard to judgments against the United Kingdom concerning security operations in Northern Island, namely that Russia has a continuing obligation to conduct effective investigations in all cases where procedural violations of Art. 2 ECHR were found. In the framework of the Chechen judgments—this means each and every case. At the same time, despite numerous official submissions to the Committee by RJI and other representatives of applicants in these cases indicating continuing serious investigative shortcomings in almost every case decided by the Court, the Committee did not—at least formally—begin to address the issue of effective investigations and accountability until 2011, 6 years after the Court issued its first judgments on Chechnya.
In September and December 2011, the Committee publicly identified seven individual cases for implementation follow-up, implying that the Committee is willing to scrutinize the adequacy of individual measures undertaken in these cases based on information provided by the Government and the applicants’ representatives. Six of these cases were referred to in the first Interim Resolution on the Chechen cases adopted by the CoM in December 2011. While the Committee continued to focus more on accountability issues through 2012, the Committee's second Interim Resolution on the Chechen cases indicates a shift in focus towards the humanitarian legacy of the Chechen conflict, in particular the issue of the identification and return of missing persons, which was sparked by the European Court's judgment in RJI's case Aslakhanova and others v Russia.
Initially, following the Court’s first five judgments from the North Caucasus, the Committee has articulated three areas of focus concerning general measures, which are:
1. Improving the legal and regulatory framework governing the activities of security forces;
2. Awareness raising and training of members of the security forces;
3. Improvement of domestic remedies in case of abuses.
The Committee has more recently articulated a focus on the legal framework of domestic investigations. In general, the Committee has prioritized “general measures which appear to be closely connected to individual measures,” such as:
1. Improving the legal and regulatory framework governing the actions of security forces during counter-terrorist operations. This topic has focused on the examination of various aspects of the 2006 law On the Suppression of Terrorism.
2. Improving the legal and regulatory framework of domestic investigations carried out following the judgments of the European Court. This topic has focused on the impact of structural reforms of the Investigating Committee and the Prosecutor’s office initiated by the Russian authorities starting in 2007, such as:
a. The creation of federal and regional Investigative Committees (IC) under the umbrella of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation. The IC has jurisdiction to investigate crimes examined by the European Court.
b. The creation of a “Special investigative unit (SIU)” (aka, the “Department for Investigation of especially serious cases,” or the “Second Department”) within the Investigating Committed of the Chechen Republic, devoted to investigations of cases before the ECtHR from the North Caucasus region;
c. The creation of the “Unit of Procedural Control No. 2” within the Investigating Committee of the Chechen Republic tasked with supervising the quality of the investigations carried out by the SIU.
3. Strengthening victims’ rights pending investigation, including:
a. Providing access to criminal case files;
b. Updating victims in a timely manner of procedural or other developments and ensuring their participation in the investigation.
4. Increasing remedies available to victims pending investigation, including:
a. Challenging procedural decisions in an effective manner;
b. The possibility to claim damages for excessive length of proceedings and for pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses suffered during counter-terrorist operations;
c. Challenging the ineffectiveness of investigations.
To read more about these issues from a variety of perspectives, please see the Resources and Materials Section.
This video produced by Human Rights Watch discusses the legacy of the European Court of Human Rights in Chechnya and highlights two of RJI's cases, Bazorkina v Russia and Sadykov v Russia.