18 December 2008, Thursday The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for the enforced disappearance of a young man in Chechnya in February 2003, Russian Justice Initiative said.

We don't know why they took him away. He was our only breadwinner. We worked so hard to get the authorities to investigate this case. Now, we will continue hoping.”, said Zara Nasukhanova, applicant in the case of Nasukhanova and Others v. Russia (5285/04).

On 3 February 2003 at approximately 2 a.m. a large group of military servicemen on four APCs and several other military vehicles arrived at a house in the village of Pervomayskaya, Chechnya, where Ruslan Kasumov was spending the night. They arrested Ruslan together with a male relative. The servicemen demanded their names, then let Ruslan's relative go but took Ruslan away. Ruslan's family has had no news from him since.

Although the applicants immediately notified the authorities about Ruslan's detention, a criminal investigation was not opened until 17 March 2003. The investigation established that military vehicles were involved in the operation but it failed to identify the servicemen driving them.

In today's unanimous judgment, the Court held that:

· The right to life had been violated in respect of Ruslan Kasumov 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 disappearance (violation of Article 2);

· Ruslan Kasumov had been illegally detained (violation of Article 5);

· The manner in which the complaints of the applicants 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 Ruslan Kasumov's parents and siblings a total of 37,000 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. The applicants were assisted in bringing their applications to the ECtHR by Russian Justice Initiative.

Today's judgment highlights the Russian authorities' continued failure to hold its soldiers accountable for grave human rights violations committed in Chechnya”, said Roemer Lemaître, Legal and Program Director of Russian Justice Initiative. “Accountability is absolutely necessary to ensure that such grave violations do not occur in the future.

On 4 December 2008 the Court already condemned Russia for grave human rights violations in 8 cases from Chechnya, 6 of them concerned enforced disappearances (summaries of all judgments are available at http://www.srji.org/en/legal/cases/).

On 8 and 15 January 2009 the Court will announce its judgments in another six disappearance cases from Chechnya.

For more information:

In Moscow, Russia: Andrey Nikolayev +7 (495) 915 0829

In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

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