12 June 2008, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for enforced disappearances in 2 cases from Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said today. The cases concern the disappearances of three men in Chechnya between 2001 and 2003.  

Atabayeva and Others v. Russia concerns the disappearance of Ramzan Kukuyev after he was detained by Russian troops during a large scale mop-up operation on 3 May 2001 in the village of Tsa-Vedeno, Chechnya. Ramzan and two other men detained in the operation subsequently disappeared. Although their relatives immediately informed the authorities about the arrests, a criminal investigation was not launched until 25 November 2001.

Elmurzayev and Others v. Russia concerns the disappearance of two brothers, Apti and Musa Elmurzayev, in the village of Martan-Chu. On 9 July 2002 Russian military servicemen arrested Apti Elmurzayev at his home. On 27 January 2003 Russian soldiers again broke into the Elmurzayevs' house and abducted Musa, who led the family's search for Apti. There has been no news of Apti and Musa since their abduction.

In both unanimous judgments, the Court held that:

      · The right to life had been violated in respect of the disappeared persons who must be presumed dead (violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);

      · The Russian authorities had not conducted an effective investigation into the disappearances (violation of Article 2);

      · The disappeared men had been illegally detained (violation of Article 5);

      · The manner in which the complaints of Apti and Musa's relatives 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 the two cases a total of 116,000 Euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

On 29 May 2008 the Court already condemned Russia in 5 cases concerning the disappearances of eight men and two women in Chechnya.

“In a fortnight Europe's top human rights court delivered 7 judgments against Russia finding Russian military servicemen responsible for disappearances in Chechnya. The Russian Government must implement these judgments and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Arsen Sakalov, director of RJI's office in Ingushetia.

On 26 June 2008 the Court will announce its judgment in another disappearance case from Chechnya.

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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