Protest over Russia’s persistent flouting of the European Court of Human Rights
A number of Russian NGOs have written to the European Court of Human Rights and others expressing concern over cases where Russia has ignored the Court’s indications under Rule 39 and extradited or expelled people to countries where they face a high risk of ill-treatment.
The President of the European Court of Human Rights
The Commissioner for Human Rights
The Committee of Ministers
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of PACE
17 April 2012
We, representatives of the applicants before the European Court of Human Rights and human rights NGOs, are writing to draw the attention of the bodies of the Council of Europe to the facts of systemic breach of the Court’s indications under Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court by the authorities of the Russian Federation in the cases where the applicants’ extradition or expulsion to the countries where they may face high risk of ill-treatment is in question.
Since the Court’s judgment in the case of Iskandarov v. Russia (no. 17185/05, 23 September 2010) where it found the Government responsible for the applicant’s abduction and transfer to Tajikistan, several repeated incidents of that kind have taken place. In the cases of Savriddin Dzhurayev v. Russia (no. 71386/10), Abdulkhakov v. Russia, (no. 14743/11), Koziyev v. Russia, (no. 58221/10) and Zokhidov v. Russia (no. 67286/10) the applicants disappeared on Russian territory and were subsequently found in detention facilities in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Court was informed about these incidents by applicants’ representatives. By the letter from the Registrar of the Court of 25 January 2012 the Representative of the Russian Federation was informed of deep concern of the President of the Court about the situation, the negative impact it may have on the Court’s authority, and “possible continuation of such unacceptable incidents in cases of other applicants to whom the interim measures still apply on account of the imminent risk of violation of their rights under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention in the countries of destination”. The Letter contained a list of 25 applicants before the Court whose expulsions and extraditions were suspended under interim measures issued pursuant to Rule 39.
In apparent disregard of the Court’s disturbance at this unprecedented situation, an identical incident took place just two months after the Court’s Letter. On 29 March 2012 Mr. Nizomkhon Dzhurayev, an applicant in a case pending before the Court (no. 31890/11), whose name was on the above mentioned list, disappeared in the Moscow Region. The Court was informed about this on the day that it occurred. On 2 April 2012 the Representative of the Respondent Government submitted that the authorities had no information on the whereabouts of the applicant. On 7 April 2012 it became known that the applicant was in custody in a detention facility of the national security service of Tajikistan. On the same day he appeared in a broadcast on the Tajik TV: he claimed that he had voluntary come to Tajikistan and surrendered to the authorities.
It is noteworthy that the above-mentioned cases are substantially similar. Thus, Mr. Mukhamadruzi Iskandarov, Mr. Savriddin Dzhurayev and Mr. Sukhrob Koziyev, who were on the wanted list in Tajikistan, were apprehended in Russia by unidentified persons and then forcibly moved without passports or other travel documents to the country of destination, where they all were forced to sign confessions and acknowledged under torture that they had surrendered voluntary.
The case of Nizomkhon Dzhurayev is analogous to the previous cases that prompted the concern of the President of the Court. None of the above mentioned applicants could have been moved across the state border of the Russian Federation without the authorities’ knowledge and consent. In the above-mentioned case of Iskandarov the responsibility of the Russian authorities for the applicant’s abduction and transfer to Tajikistan was established by the Court. The fact that the incident of Nizomkhon Dzhurayev took place not only after the Court’s judgment in the case of Iskandarov but also after the Court’s Letter of 25 January 2012 underscores the Russian authorities ’ neglect to the Court’s indications.
We believe that the repeated incidents which violate Russia’s obligations under the Convention are only possible because of the complete lack of effective investigation into each case, and the resulting impunity of persons responsible for such grave violations. In addition the Russian Federation authorities have made no effort to remedy the situation by seeking the return of the applicants who were illegally rendered to the jurisdiction of the requesting states. The measures the authorities report about, turn out to be absolutely ineffective and cannot protect anyone from possible abduction. Namely, the authorities have reported that a copy of the Court’s Letter of 25 January 2012 has been sent to all relevant national agencies. However since the applicants were illegally transferred across Russian borders, without passing border formalities, this pro-forma step has no practical impact. Also some of the applicants, whose names were on the above list of 25 persons, were summoned to the prosecutors’ offices and questioned as to whether they had ever been threatened with abduction or if any attempted abduction had taken place. Clearly, this measure cannot exclude future attempts of abductions in the absence of political will to prevent such violations.
In all the cases the authorities claim that they are not responsible for transferring the applicants to Tajikistan. They also refuse to return the applicants’ moved to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, referring to the national sovereignty of those countries and lack of appropriate legal mechanisms. This reasoning is absolutely unconvincing since the above mentioned cases involved the applicants’ disappearances and illegal secret transfers to the counties of destination. Such a process in reality can take place only when there are extra-legal relationships that exist between the Russian authorities and authorities in those countries.
In this connection we kindly ask you to insist that the Russian authorities remedy violated rights of Mr. Mukhamadruzi Iskandarov, Mr. Savriddin Dzhurayev, Mr. Sukhrob Koziyev, Mr. Nizomkhon Dzhurayev and Mr. Rustam Zokhidov by securing their return to Russia. Fulfillment of this will demonstrate the Russian Federation’s respect for the obligations under the Convention and the importance of the protection of human rights to the Government.
Memorial Human Rights Centre, Tatiana Kasatkina, Executive Director
Civic Assistance Committee, Svetlana Gannushkina, the Head
Anna Stavitskaya, Advocate, the applicants’ representative before the European Court,
Elena Ryabinina, the applicants’ representative before the European Court,
Head of the Program “Right for Asylum” of Human Rights Institute
Nadezhda Ermolayeva, Advocate, the applicants’ representative before the European Court
and 12 lawyers and the applicants’ representative before the European Court