15 January 2009, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for the enforced disappearance of one man in Chechnya in October 2002 and another man in Ingushetia in June 2004, Russian Justice Initiative said.

In Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov v. Russia (35080/04) the Court held Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of Vakha Khavazhovich Abdurzakov. Vakha was arrested by military servicemen at his home in the town of Urus-Martan, Chechnya, on 25 October 2002. A few days after Vakha's arrest, his parents were approached by a woman who proposed them to pay a ransom to an officer of the Urus-Martan Department of the FSB in return for the release of their son. The woman later testified to investigators that she gave the money to the officer. However, Vakha was never released.

Medova v. Russia (25385/04) concerns the enforced disappearance of Adam Medov on 17 June 2004. Four men who identified themselves as officers of the Chechen Department of the FSB detained Adam and another man in the Sunzha District, Ingushetia, and subsequently took them to Chechnya. Adam has not been seen since.

In today's judgments the ECtHR unanimously held that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Vakha and Adam who must be presumed dead (violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);

  • The Russian authorities had failed to conduct effective investigations into the disappearances (violation of Article 2);

  • Vakha and Adam had been illegally detained (violation of Article 5);

  • The manner in which the complaints of the applicants in the first case were dealt with by Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (violation of Article 3);

  • The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before Russian authorities for the violations (violation of Article 13).

The Court awarded the applicants in both cases a total of 70,000 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicants in Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov v. Russia were assisted in bringing their application to the Court by Russian Justice Initiative. The applicant in Medova v. Russia was represented before the Court by lawyers from the Human Rights Centre «Memorial».

On 8 January 2009 the Court condemned Russia in six cases from Chechnya concerning enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. On 22 January 2009 the Court will announce its judgments in three other cases concerning grave human rights abuse in Chechnya.

For more information:

In Moscow, Russia: Roemer Lemaître, +7 903 1081346
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

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