17 September 2009, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights has unanimously condemned Russia in two cases concerning enforced disappearances in Chechnya and one case concerning an extra-judicial killing in Ingushetia, Russian Justice Initiative said today. The Chechen cases concern the disappearances of two men in different locations in Chechnya between 2003 and 2004. The Ingush case concerns an attack on a civilian vehicle and subsequent killing of one of its passengers in the village of Galashki in 2004.

In Magomadova and others v Russia, the Applicants' relative, Ruslan Magomadov, was detained by Russian forces from his home in Grozny. A group of around thirty servicemen stormed the Magomadov's residence in the early morning hours of 9 February 2003, intimidating Magomadov's family and forcibly removing Ruslan. In Asadulayeva v Russia, Bekman Asadulayev was abducted from the Grozny office of the Ministry of Interior in January 2004, after submitting his leave from work. Neither Bekman nor Ruslan have been seen since.

In Zabiyeva and others v Russia, the Applicants were driving into the village of Galashki, Ingushetia, when their vehicle came under heavy fire. One of the applicants was severely wounded; her son Ali ran for help in the village, while the other, Umar Zabiyev, stayed with her. When Ali returned Umar had disappeared; his dead body was found later the next day in the woods not far from the scene, with gunshot wounds, bruises, and a broken jaw.

In the Zabiyeva judgment the Court unanimously found a violation of the right to  life (Art. 2) with respect to Umar Zabiyev and a violation of the prohibition against inhuman treatment (Art. 3) with respect to both Umar and his mother, in addition to a lack of effective domestic remedies to address the violations (Art.13). The Court noted in particular the significant delays in carrying out even the most basic investigative steps in the domestic proceedings and the Government's contradictory account of the events leading to Umar's murder.

In the two disappearance cases the Court found that Bekman and Ruslan must be presumed dead (Art. 2) and that the authorities' treatment of the Applicants amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment (Art. 3). It also found that the Applicants' relatives had been illegally detained (Art. 5) and that the investigation into the disappearances had been ineffective. In all three cases the Russian Government refused to disclose the contents of the domestic criminal case file to the Court.

Umar's older brother Musa Zabiyev expressed his satisfaction with the Court's judgment, but noted that “what worries us now is what comes next...there should be some kind of consequence to all this and some one should be brought to account for this crime.” The Russian Government currently faces the obligation to implement over seventy judgments—excluding those which have not yet entered into force—concerning similar violations from the North Caucasus.

The Court awarded the applicants in the three cases a total of 174,867 EUR in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. The applicants were assisted in bringing their applications to the Court by Russian Justice Initiative.

For more information:
In Moscow: Roemer Lemaitre, +7 906 772 3632; Vanessa Kogan, + 7 925 863 5111.

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