European Court of Human Rights Condemns Russia for 13 disappearances in Chechnya


On Thursday 23 April, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously condemned Russia for the enforced disappearance of 13 men in different locations across Chechnya between November 2001 and March 2004.

The case Gakiyev and Gakiyeva v. Russia (3179/05) concerns the disappearance of Idris Gakiyev. Russian military servicemen detained Idris at his home in the town of Argun on 30 November 2003. The servicemen badly beat Idris’ father Khalid Gakiyev before leaving. On 29 March 2004 Idris’ mutilated body was discovered in Grozny. In January 2008 the Russian government claimed that Idris could not have been detained on 30 November 2003 because he had voted in the parliamentary elections on 7 December 2003.

The applicants in Bitiyeva and Others v. Russia (36156/04) are close relatives of 8 men (Bayali and Sharip Elmurzayev, Khusin and Isa Khadzhimuradov, Lechi Shaipov, Apti Murtazov, Zelimkhan Osmayev and Idris Elmurzayev) who disappeared following their detention by Russian military servicemen in the village of Duba-Yurt in the early hours of 27 March 2004. Their dead bodies bearing gunshot wounds were found in a forest near the village of Serzhen-Yurt on 9 April 2004.

The case Israilova and Others v. Russia (4571/04) concerns the disappearance of Sharpuddin Israilov and Adlan Dovtayev. Sharpuddin and Adlan were detained by Russian military servicemen at a checkpoint on the road between Grozny and Urus-Martan on 30 December 2002. The servicemen brought them to Khankala, the main Russian military base in Chechnya. The following day Sharpuddin and Adlan were taken away in a military vehicle. They have not been seen since. In June 2003 the civilian prosecutor transferred the case to the military prosecutor after establishing that the crime was committed by Russian military servicemen. The military prosecutor has for almost 6 years failed to take any meaningful steps to identify those servicemen.

The applicant in Alaudinova v. Russia (32297/05) is the mother of the Bekkhan Alaudinov, who was detained by Russian military servicemen at his home in Urus-Martan on 8 November 2001. He has not been seen since.

The case Khachukayev v. Russia (28148/03) concerns the disappearance of Murad Khachukayev. Murad disappeared following his detention by Russian military servicemen in the village of Goyty in the early hours of 5 February 2003. His dead body was found several days later.

In its judgments the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that:

The right to life has been violated in respect of all 13 men (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);

Khalid Gakiyev suffered inhuman and degrading treatment upon his son’s arrest (violation of Article 3);

The manner in which the complaints of the applicants in Israilova, Gakiyev and Gakiyeva and Alaudinova 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 five cases a total of 549,700 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicants in Bitiyeva, Gakiyev and Gakiyeva and Israilova were assisted in bringing their applications to the Court by Russian Justice Initiative. The applicant in Alaudinova was represented by lawyers from EHRAC/Memorial. The applicant in Khachukayev was represented by Mr. Itslayev, a lawyer in Chechnya.

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