19 July 2016, Tuesday

On July 19, 2016, the European Court of Human Rights delivered a ruling, CASE OF BARKOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA, recognising that Russia violated Article 6 of the Convention with regard to convicted person Murat Shavayev.

The Court ruled that Murat Shavayev was deprived of the right to fair court process, guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention, as he was deprived of his rights to take part in court process at the appeals instance during examination of a civil law complaint brought against him by the Federal Customs Service.

“The ECHR, as a rule, always satisfies complaints of this sort because the Court has a set position on this issue”, said Rustam Matsev, lawyer with Russian Justice Initiative. “In this case, Article 6 was violated when the applicant was not able to be present at the appeals instance examination of the Customs Service’s complaint against him. The ECHR ruled that this violated the provisions guaranteed in Article 6 of the Convention, that is, the right to fair court process”.

The Russian Federation Supreme Court shares the ECHR’s position. On June 27, 2013, it adopted Supreme Court Plenum Ruling No. 21, Point 16 of which states: “Based on the provisions of Point 1, Article 6 of the Convention, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, prisoners have the right to take part in court proceedings on civil law cases”.

But at the moment the Customs Service complaint against the applicant was examined, the Russian Supreme Court had not yet formulated this position. Under the Plenum ruling’s terms, the civil law case against the applicant could be re-examined in accordance with Point 18. “Under the provisions of Part 1 and Point 4 of Part 4 of Article 392 of Russian State Procedural Code, following the European Court ruling, violations of the Convention’s provisions or of its Protocols can be re-examined by court decision or by other court rulings”.    

The ECHR ordered 1,500 euros to be paid to the applicant as compensation for moral damages. The money must be paid within three months of the ruling coming into force.  

Shavayev was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2007, the Moscow City Court found him guilty of involvement in the terrorist attacks on Avtozavodskaya metro station on February 6, 2004, and Rizhskaya metro station on August 31, 2004. In handing down the sentence, the Court cited confessions that Shavayev gave under torture. Lawyers at Russian Justice Initiative believe that the Court’s sentence and the evidence obtained by these means violate the applicant’s rights under Articles 3 and 6 of the Convention. Shavayev’s lawyers also noted violation of procedural obligations under Article 3 of the Convention, and therefore sent to the ECHR in 2008 an application on Shavayev’s behalf in connection with the violations cited above. The application is currently at the stage of being communicated to the Russian Government.    

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