21 June 2011, Tuesday

The European Court of Human Rights found Russia responsible for the disappearance of two civilians, the torture and resulting death of a man in custody, and a failure to investigate an attack on the Chechen village of Martan-Chu, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Makharbiyeva and Others v. Russia (no. 26595/08) are the parents, wife and children of Adam Makharbiyev, who disappeared after his detention by Russian servicemen at a checkpoint between the villages of Urus-Martan and Gekhi, which at the time was manned by OMON servicemen from Yaroslavl. On 24 March 2001 Adam was returning to Gekhi with two of his cousins when their car was stopped at the checkpoint. The three men were arrested and taken for questioning at the military commander’s office in Urus-Martan. Several days later, both of Adam’s cousins had been released, but all trace of Adam was lost. Over a year after his detention, his mother obtained evidence that Adam had likely been taken to the infamous Chernokozovo detention center, but this information was ignored by the authorities and the investigation made no progress.

The applicants in Giriyeva and Others v. Russia (17879/08) are the mother, brother and sister of Isa Aygumov who disappeared after his adbuction from his family home by Russian servicemen. In the afternoon of 9 January 2002 a group of armed servicemen arrived at the applicants’ house in Avtury village. Isa was apprehended and put in a car. Other servicemen then searched the house, finding nothing, and shortly before leaving jammed the front door with a metal pipe to prevent the applicants from coming outside. Witnesses saw the cars driving away in the direction of Shali. Isa has never been seen again and the criminal investigation into his disappearance proved fruitless.

 The applicants in Isayev and others v Russia (43368/04) are the relatives of Zelimkhan Isayev, who was abducted from his home in Goi-Chu on 9 May 2004. The next day, servicemen returned to the house, planted a grenade in Zelimkhan’s bed, and drew up a search report about the discovery of explosives in the house. Shortly after his detention Zelimkhan was brought to the hospital in Urus-Martan after severe torture, and died on 16 May, a week after his detention.  

The applicant in Nakayev v Russia (29846/05) , Ibragim Nakayev, suffered a serious head injury during what he alleged was an indiscriminate rocket attack by Russian forces against the village of Martan-Chu in 1999, which left him severely handicapped. His attempts to initiate criminal investigation into the attack produced no results.

In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Adam Makharbiyev, Isa Aygumov and Zelimkhan Isayev (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • In all four cases, the Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the disappearances, death and alleged use of indiscriminate force;
  • The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities in the cases of Makharbiyev and Giriyeva constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • Zelimkhan Isayev suffered torture in violation of Art. 3 of the Convention, into which no effective investigation was carried out;
  • Adam Makharbiyev and Isa Aygumov were unlawfully deprived of their liberty (Article 5);
  • The applicants in four cases did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations of the right to life (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicants in all four cases were awarded EUR 251,000 in material and moral damages. Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicants in Makharbiyeva and Giriyeva in bringing their case to the ECtHR. The applicants in Isayev were represented by the EHRAC/Memorial Human Rights Center. Chechen advocate Dokka Itslaev represented the applicant in Nakayev v Russia.

For more information,

In Utrecht, the Netherlands, Egbert Wesselink: +3162 062 6756

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