03 July 2008, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for enforced disappearances in three cases from Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said today. The cases concern the disappearances of four men in different locations in Chechnya between 2000 and 2002.

Akhiyadova v. Russia (no. 32059/02) concerns the disappearance of Magomed and his father Kharon Khumaidov from their home in the village of Makhkety, Chechnya, on 13 February 2002. Witnesses observed that Magomed and Kharon were taken to the building of the Federal Security Service in Khatuni. Even though the prosecutor's office determined that the 45th regiment had been involved in the abduction, the investigation has failed to hold anybody accountable.

Musayeva v. Russia (no. 12703/02) concerns the disappearance of Yakub Iznaurov during a large mop-up operation (zachistka) in Grozny on 5 February 2000. Russian soldiers ordered Yakub to undress to his waist, tied his hands behind his back with a metal wire and pulled a cap over his face. They forced him to kneel for two hours in the cold before taking him away.

Ruslan Umarov v. Russia (no. 12712/02) concerns the disappearance of Magomed Umarov. Magomed was detained by Russian servicemen on 27 May 2000 in Grozny. Magomed's father Ruslan was severely beaten by the servicemen.

In all the cases, the Court requested the Russian authorities to provide the Court with documents from the criminal investigation file. The Russian authorities submitted only a handful of documents, however, citing a provision in Russian law that allegedly prevented them from complying with the Court's request.

In its three 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 circumstances of Yakub Iznaurov's arrest and the maltreatment of Ruslan Umarov constituted inhuman and degrading treatment (violation of Article 3);

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

  • The manner in which the applicants’ complaints 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 refusal of the Russian authorities to submit the documents of the criminal investigation file constitutes a failure to assist the Court in its investigation (violation of Article 38).

In the three cases the Court awarded the applicants a total of 175,000 Euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicant in the case of Akhiyadova was assisted in bringing her application to the ECHR by Russian Justice Initiative. In the cases of Musayeva and Umarov 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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