08 November 2011, Tuesday

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of a Chechen man in 2003, Russian Justice Initiative  reported today.  

The applicant in Sambiyeva v Russia (no.20205/07) is the mother of Said-Emin Sambiyev, who disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint in the village of Tevzan on 13 August 2003.  

At the time of his detention Said-Emin was working with the Security Service of the Chechen President and on 13 August was traveling with a colleague to the village of Makkhety when their car was stopped at a checkpoint manned by servicemen of military unit no. 28337-A. Both men were taken for a supposed identity check to the base of the 45th Airborne Forces Regiment in the village of Khatuni, from which Said-Emin’s colleague was released twelve days later. The applicant subsequently learned that her son and his acquaintance had been held in pits in the ground and tortured with beatings and electric shocks during their detention at Khatuni; her son had been seen alive shortly before his colleague’s release, but then all trace of him was lost.  According to his colleague, Said-Emin had been accused of murdering a police officer and blowing up an APC and was tortured to produce a confession.  

In its submissions before the Court the Government acknowledged that Said-Emin had been detained by military servicemen and taken to the military unit in Khatuni. The ensuing investigation produced no results and the applicant received almost no substantive information about the progress of the investigation. Supervising prosecutors over the course of the investigation issued remedial measures, but this had no tangible impact on the quality of the investigation.

In its unanimous judgment, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Said-Emin Sambiyev (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into Said-Emin’s disappearance (Article 2);
  • The manner in which the applicant’s complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • Said-Emin Sambiyev was unlawfully deprived of his liberty (Article 5);
  • The applicant 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 applicant was awarded 62,000 euro in respect of moral and material damages. Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicant in bringing her case to the ECtHR.

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