27 May 2008, Tuesday

On 29 May 2008, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will rule on five disappearance cases from Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said today. Four of the cases are the first cases from Chechnya to be decided under an expedited review procedure.

Sangariyeva and Gaitayev v. Russia (1839/04): On 24 January 2003 Russian military servicemen detained Musa and Magamed Gaitayev during security checks in Urus-Martan. The relatives recognized one of the soldiers as the Urus-Martan military commander. Magamed was released the same day after being beaten and drugged but Musa disappeared.

Gekhayeva and Dugayeva v. Russia (1755/04): On 16 May 2003 Russian military servicemen forcibly entered the home of Gekhayeva in the village of Ulus-Kert and detained her daughter Kurbika Zinabdiyeva and 15-year old Aminat Dugayeva. A representative of the prosecutor's office stated to media that two women suspected of involvement with the 2002 Dubrovka hostage-taking incident had been detained. Nevertheless, Kurbika and Aminat later disappeared and the authorities deny that they were ever detained.

Ibragimov v. Russia (34561/03): On 29 December 2002 Russian military servicemen broke into the home of the Ibragimov family in Urus-Martan and detained Rizvan Ibragimov. Rizvan subsequently disappeared.

Utsayeva and Others v. Russia (29133/03): On 2 June 2002 Russian military servicemen arriving at the village of Novye Atagi on military vehicles detained Islam Utsaev, Movsar Taisumov, Idris Abdulazimov and Masud Tovmerzaev in their respective homes. None of the men have been seen or heard from since. Russian military servicemen detained Said-Maagomed Imakayev in the same village on the same night. The ECHR held Russia responsible for the disappearance and death of Imakayev on 9 November 2006 (Imakayeva v. Russia, 7615/02).

Betayev and Betayeva v. Russia (37315/03): On 26 April 2003 Russian military servicemen broke into the Betayevs’ home in the village of Goyty and detained Lecha and Ibragim Betayev. Lecha and Ibragim subsequently disappeared.

Four of the cases are the first cases from Chechnya to be decided under an expedited review process. During this process, the Court makes a decision on the admissibility and merits of the case at the same time instead of issuing separate decisions. The Court started to use the expedited review process more widely in 2006, in part to manage the increasing number of complaints from Russian citizens. On 1 May 2008, 88,200 cases were pending before the Court, 22,050 (25%) of them against Russia. Each year around 10,000 new complaints against Russia alone are filed with the Court. Further reforms to reduce the backlog of cases are currently blocked by Russia. Russia is the only country, among the 47 member-states of the Council of Europe, that has not ratified the 14th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The applicants in the cases of Sangariyeva and Gaitayev, Gekhayeva and Dugayeva, Ibragimov, and Utsayeva were assisted in bringing their applications to the ECHR by Stichting Russian Justice Initiative. In the case of Betayev and Betayeva, the applicants were assisted by lawyers from the Human Rights Centre "Memorial".

For more information:
In Moscow, Russia: Roemer Lemaître, +7 906 772 3632
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

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