22 July 2010, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the disappearance of three Chechen men detained at their homes by Russian federal troops in 2002 and 2003, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Akhmatkhanovy v. Russia (no. 20147/07) are the parents, sister and wife of Artur Akhmatkhanov, who was abducted by Russian servicemen in Shali, Chechnya. In the morning of 2 April 2003 Artur went with his mother, Bilat, to the town center. His mother needed to return home to fetch some documents, while Artur stayed in the town center. On her way back into town, Bilat heard a round of gun shots. According to numerous witness testimonies Russian servicemen on four APCs cordoned off a former medical storehouse. A young man was seen being dragged into one of the APCs by the servicemen with a bag over his head. Bloodied bandages and Artur’s yellow cap were found inside the storehouse, as well as numerous cartridges. This evidence was picked up by investigators but it is unclear whether they were ever examined by experts. Artur has not been seen alive since that day.

The 15 applicants in Benuyeva and Others v. Russia (no. 8347/05) are the parents and siblings of Abu Zhanalayev and Sayd-Selim Benuyev, who were taken away by Russian security forces from the village of Martan-Chu, Chechnya on 24 November 2002. The two disappeared men lived on the same street. That evening members of Russian security forces in the course of a ‘mopping-up’ operation burst into the applicants’ houses and after conducting a search, detained Abu and Sayd-Selim. Their relatives still have no news as to their whereabouts.   

The investigation into all three disappearances produced no results.     

 In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Artur Akhmatkhanov (Akhmatkhanovy), Abu Zhanalayev and Sayd-Selim Benuyev (Benuyeva and Others) (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the above violations (Article 2);
  • The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment  in Akhmatkhanovy; the manner in which the parents’ complaints regarding their sons’ disappearance in Benuyeva were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • Artur Akhmatkhanov (Akhmatkhanovy), Abu Zhanalayev and Sayd-Selim Benuyev (Benuyeva) were unlawfully deprived of their liberty (Article 5);
  • The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicants were awarded 198,200 euro in respect of material and moral damages. In bringing their cases to the ECtHR the applicants were assisted by the Russian Justice Initiative.

For more information,  

In Moscow,

Vanessa Kogan: + 7 (495) 915-0869; +7 (925) 863-5111

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