Strasbourg condemns Russia over two cases involving disappearances in Chechnya
In two Chamber judgments over the cases of Rezvanov and Rezvanova v. Russia and Babusheva and others v. Russia, the European Court of Human Rights has found violations of the right to life, the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security, and the right to an effective remedy.
The Applicants in both cases sought redress for the disappearance of two men from different locations in Chechnya between 2002 and 2003.
In Babusheva and others v Russia, Ramzan Babushev was kidnapped after agreeing to carry out repair work on a military vehicle in the village of Makhkety, Chechnya on 4 February 2003. After starting the repairs, armed masked servicemen arrived in an armored personnel carrier and stormed the household. They handcuffed Ramzan and put a sack over his head, and threatened his wife with death unless she went back inside the house. After taking Ramzan away in the APC, the Applicants house was searched and several items seized, including jewlery and car parts. The investigation into Ramzans abduction has yielded no concrete results and has been plagued by inexplicable delays.
In Rezvanov and Rezvanova v Russia, the Applicants are the parents of Akhmed Rezvanov, who was abducted from their home in Urus-Martan on 10 December 2002. Armed masked servicemen arrived at the house during the early morning hours and threatened the Applicants at gun-point, asking where the men were. When Akhmed emerged from the house, he was put in a military vehicle and driven off in an unknown direction. The servicemen subsequently seized several items from the Applicants home. The investigation into Akhmeds disappearance has been suspended and reopened several times and has produced no tangible results.
In both cases the Court unanimously found that:
The right to life has been violated in respect of both men who must be presumed dead (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
The Russian authorities had failed to conduct effective investigations into the above violation (Article 2);
Both men were illegally detained prior to their disappearance (Article 5);
The privacy of the Applicants homes was unjustifiably violated by the authorities (Art. 8 and Art. 1 Prot. 1);
The manner in which the complaints of the Applicants 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 both cases a total of 9500 EUR in pecuniary and 75000 EUR in non-pecuniary damages.
Roza Babusheva, the wife of Ramzan Babushev expressed her satisfaction with the judgment but noted that «it should not put an end to the investigation into my husbands whereabouts.»
The applicants in Babusheva v Russia were assisted in bringing their application to the Court by Russian Justice Initiative; the applicants in the Rezvanov case were assisted by Ms. L. Khamzayeva, a lawyer in Moscow.