12 February 2009, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for the enforced disappearance of five men in different locations in Chechnya between January 2000 and January 2003, Russian Justice Initiative said today.

Bantayeva and Others v. Russia (20727/04) concerns the disappearance of two brothers, Abubakar and Salman Bantayev in the village of Komsomolskoye,Chechnya, on 2 January 2003. The investigative authorities failed to question key witnesses for more than four and a half years.

The 16 applicants in Meshayeva and Others v. Russia (27248/03) are relatives of Leoma Meshayev and Bislan Saydayev. In the night between 16 and 17 December 2002 a large group of Russian military servicemen on APCs arrived in the village of Martan-Chu and detained Leoma and Bislan. Although the domestic investigation concluded that it was likely that military servicemen detained Leoma and Bislan it was unable to identify the perpetrators or the military unit involved in the operation.

Ayubov v. Russia (7654/02) concerns the disappearance of Adam Ayubov in Grozny, Chechnya, on 19 January 2000. Russian military servicemen detained Adam and drove him away in a military truck.  The servicemen also destroyed the Ayubov's property. The authorities did not open an investigation into the case until 10 months later.

There has been no news of the five men since they were detained by Russian servicemen.

“In each of today's cases the European Court of Human Rights strongly criticized the Russian authorities for its unwillingness to investigate human rights violations in Chechnya,” said Roemer Lemaître, Legal and Program Director of Russian Justice Initiative. “Almost four years and 80 judgments after the Court first condemned Russia for human rights violations in Chechnya, the government has not implemented a single judgment of the Court.”

In today's judgments the ECtHR unanimously held that:

  • The right to life has 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 failed to conduct effective investigations into the violations of the right to life (violation of Article 2);
    The applicants' relatives 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 Russian authorities are responsible for the destruction of the Ayubov's property (violation of Article 1 of Protocol 1).

The ECtHR awarded the applicants in the three cases a total of 236 500 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicants in Meshayeva and Bantayeva were assisted in bringing their applications to the ECtHR by Russian Justice Initiative. The applicant in Ayubov was represented by Memorial and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre.

On 26 February 2009 the Court will announce its judgments in three other cases concerning grave human rights abuse in Chechnya.

For more information:
In Moscow, Russia: Roemer Lemaître, +7 906 772 3632

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