16 January 2007, Tuesday
(Utrecht) - The European Court of Human Rights will rule on the first case concerning torture in Chechnya on 18 January 2007, Stichting Russian Justice Initiative said today. The judgment will be the first in a string of torture cases from Chechnya lodged with the Court.
The case concerns brothers Adam and Arbi Chitayev who were detained by Russian servicemen in April 2000 at their home in Achkhoy-Martan, Chechnya. During their nearly six-month detention at the Achkhoy-Martan police station and the infamous Chernokozovo detention center, both brothers were subjected to torture, including beatings, electric shock, and choking, and were forced to confess to crimes they did not commit. The brothers were never brought before a court, however, and the case was later closed due to a lack of evidence of their involvement in the alleged crimes.
The Chitayev family appealed the detention of their relatives in numerous forums for months, but failed to receive even an official notification of the brothers’ detention until late July 2000. Upon their release in early October 2000, Adam and Arbi were threatened with further harm should they or their family continue to send complaints regarding their detention or ill-treatment.
The Human Rights Centre Memorial submitted an initial application to the European Court in July 2000 on behalf of the Chitayev brothers in connection with their arbitrary detention and the unlawful confiscation of their personal possessions and the property of their relatives. SRJI has provided representation since the summer of 2001, after which it actively assisted the Chitayev family in their requests for an investigation into the circumstances of the brothers’ detention and for the return of their confiscated property.
SRJI submitted additional materials to the European Court in November 2002 to argue violations of the right to be free from torture, the right to fair trial, the right to respect for family life, and the right to an effective remedy. The case was declared admissible under expedited review in June 2005.
The judgment will be the first of several concerning the use of torture in the Chernokozovo detention center. The conditions in Chernokozovo have been documented in detail by Human Rights Watch in the report “Welcome to Hell:” Arbitrary Detention, Torture, and Extortion in Chechnya. Chernokozovo was also singled out in a statement made by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in a July 2001 statement denouncing the lack of cooperation with the CPT by the Russian government.
For more information:
In Utrecht: Jan ter Laak, +31 622 975 179
In Nazran: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753