02 April 2009, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights today unanimously condemned Russia for the enforced disappearance of three men in different locations across Chechnya between March 2000 and April 2002, Russian Justice Initiative said today.

Dokuyev and Others v. Russia (6704/03) concerns the disappearance of Magomed Dokuyev. In the early morning of 14 February 2001 a large group of Russian military servicemen arrived on two APCs at the Dokuyev's home in the village of Novye Aldi, Chechnya. They detained Magomed as well as his father, Vakhit Dokuyev, and started beating both men with rifle butts. The servicemen placed them in one of the APCs and drove to a military base. Vakhit – handcuffed and blindfolded - was thrown in a tent. He heard his son screaming nearby and understood that Magomed was being tortured. Vakhit was told that he would be permitted to exchange last words with his son, who would be shot. Vakhit could not see his son as the servicemen refused to remove his blindfold. The servicemen only allowed father and son to say farewell in Russian. Vakhit was released on the following day but Magomed has not been seen since.

The applicants in Saydaliyeva and Others v. Russia (41498/04) are relatives of Vakha Saydaliyev who was detained by military servicemen during a security operation on 16 April 2002 in the village of Serzhen-Yurt, Chechnya. There has been no news of Vakha since. Although the Russian government in its submissions to the Court denied that they ever detained Vakha, the Shali District Department of the Interior in 2003 confirmed that Vakha was arrested by Russian military servicemen during a security operation. In 2003 a local court declared Vakha “a missing person” after having heard witnesses who testified that Vakha was last seen on 16 April 2002, when he was taken away by Russian military servicemen.

Dzhabayeva v. Russia (13310/04) concerns the disappearance of Magomed Dzhabayev in Grozny, Chechnya, on 10 March 2000 after he was detained by officers belonging to the Oktyabrskiy District Temporary Office of the Interior. There has been no news of him since.

“I want to see the soldiers who took away my son behind bars,” said Vakhit Dokuyev, the father of Magomed Dokuyev.

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);

  • Magomed Dokuyev suffered inhuman and degrading treatment upon his arrest (violation of Article 3);

  • 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 the applicants in the three cases a total of 120 300 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicants in Dokuyev and Saydaliyeva were assisted in bringing their applications to the Court by Russian Justice Initiative. The applicant in Dzhabayeva was represented by Leyla Khamzayeva, a lawyer in Moscow.

For more information:

In Moscow, Russia: Roemer Lemaître, +7 906 7723632

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