02 October 2008, Thursday The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for enforced disappearances in one case from Ingushetia and two cases from Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said today. The cases concern the disappearances of five persons in different locations in Chechnya and Ingushetia between 2000 and 2002. Today's judgment in the case of Khalidova is the first disappearance case from Ingushetia being decided by the European Court of Human Rights.

Khalidova and Others v. Russia (no. 22877/04) concerns the disappearance of a father and his son, Isa and Shamil Khalidov, in the village of Psedhak, Malgobekskiy District, Ingushetia on 29 November 2002. Isa and Shamil were detained by law enforcement officers in the factory where they worked. The Malgobek prosecutor's office established that they had been detained by a Chechen police unit, a conclusion later rejected by the prosecutor's office of Chechnya. The investigation failed to hold anybody accountable.

Lyanova and Aliyeva v. Russia (no. 12713/02 and no. 28440/03) concerns the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Islam Dombaev and sixteen-year-old Murat Lianov who, together with a third boy, were detained by a Russian Ministry of Interior unit on 28 June 2000 in Grozny, Chechnya. Although the investigation established the units involved in the boys' detention, the investigation was suspended without holding anybody accountable for the boys' disappearance.

Rasayev and Сhankayeva v. Russia (no. 38003/03) concerns the disappearance of Ramzan Rasayev from his home in the village of Chechen-Aul, Chechnya, on 25 December 2001. Other residents of Chechen-Aoul reported seeing Ramzan at a detention camp in the outskirts of the village later that evening. Russian authorities confirmed that federal forces carried out a special operation in the village at the time of Ramzan's detention but yet failed to identify those responsible.

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 judgments, the Court unanimously 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 persons 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);

In Lyanova and Aliyeva, the Court further held that the Russian government's refusal to submit documents from the criminal investigation file amounted to a violation of Article 38 §1 (a).

The Court awarded the applicants in the three cases a total of 183,500 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

"For me, the monetary compensation is not important, most important is to find my disappeared husband and son", said Aiset Khalidova after hearing the judgment. Her words underline the applicants' hope that today's judgments will lead to effective domestic investigations in their cases.

In all cases, the Court particularly pointed to the ineffectiveness of the criminal investigations. "The prosecutors possessed all documents, all material concerning the involvement of the federal forces in the disappearance, but nobody was willing to carry out an investigation", said Rashan Aliyeva.

The applicants in the cases of Rasayev and Khalidova were assisted in bringing their applications to the ECHR by Russian Justice Initiative. In the case of Lyanova and Aliyeva, Mrs. Aliyeva was assisted by lawyers from the Russian Justice Initiative and Mrs. Lyanova by the Human Rights Centre "Memorial".

For more information:
In Moscow, Russia: Andrey Nikolayev + 7 495 915 0869
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

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