European Court of Human Rights finds against Russia in eight cases over Chechnya
In Askharova v. Russia (13566/02) Russian federal forces conducted a sweep operation in Serzhen-Yurt on 18 May 2001 and detained Sharani Askharov together with eighth other men. Six of them were subsequently released. A seventh man was later found dead. Sharani and another man remain missing. Two of the released men testified that they had been out in APC together with Sharani.
In Akhmadova and Others v. Russia (3026/03) the Court noted that the military prosecutors office established that “on 6 March 2002 Musa Akhmadov was detained by a group of servicemen at the road block in the vicinity of village Kirov-Yurt, delivered to the headquarters of the 51-st airborne regiment in the village of Khatuni and there transferred to the field subdivision of the FSB based at the same camp.”
The Court also found Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of Artur Bersunkayev on 13 June 2001 (Bersunkayeva v. Russia 27233/03 ) , Vakhid Musikhanov on 9 November 2002 ( Musikhanova and Others v. Russia 27243/03 ) and Adam Ilyasov on 15 November 2002 ( Ilyasova and Others v. Russia 1895/04 ).
In the case of Umayeva v. Russia (1200/03) the Court condemned Russia for the indiscriminate shelling by federal forces of civilians trying to flee Grozny in January 2000. The applicant, Lipatu Umayeva, survived but was seriously injured in the attack.
In the case of Gandaloyeva v. Russia (14800/04) the Court held Russia responsible for the extra-judicial killing of Alaudin Gandaloyev by Russian servicemen in the woods outside Achkhoy-Martan on 17 September 2003.
In the case Tagirova and Others v. Russia (20580/04) the Court faulted Russia for the ineffective investigation into the disappearance of Movsar Tagirov, a trainee police officer, on 7 February 2003. It did not, however, find that it had enough evidence to rule that Russian servicemen were responsible for Movsars detention and subsequent disappearance.
In todays judgments the Court unanimously held that:
The right to life had been violated in the first seven cases (violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
The Russian authorities had failed to conduct effective investigations in all eight cases (violation of Article 2);
The disappeared relatives of the applicants in the first five cases have been illegally detained (violation of Article 5);
The manner in which the complaints of the applicants in in the first five cases were dealt with by Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (violation of Article 3);
The applicants in the first seven cases did not have access to an effective remedy before Russian authorities for the violations (violation of Article 13);
In the cases of Askharova, Akhmadova, Bersunkayeva and Musikhanova the Court further held that the refusal of the Russian authorities to submit the documents of the criminal case file constituted a failure to assist the Court in its investigation (violation of Article 38) .
The Court awarded the applicants in all cases a total of 286,677 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.
The applicants in the cases of Askharova, Akhmadova, Ilyasova, Musikhanova and Tagirova were assisted in bringing their applications to the ECHR by Russian Justice Initiative. In the case of Bersunkayeva and Umayeva the applicants were assisted by lawyers from the Human Rights Centre "Memorial". The applicant in the case of Gandaloyeva was represented by Mr Dokka Itslayev, a lawyer from Chechnya.
On 18 December the Court will announce its judgment in a case concerning the disappearance of a man in Chechnya 2003.