Russia found guilty of multiple violations over Chechen disappearances
The European Court of Human Rights has (again) found grave violations of the right to life and prohibition of torture in connection with the abduction of Chechens by “groups of armed men, most of them in camouflage gear, in areas under the full control of the Russian federal forces.
The Court found violation of Article 2 – the right to life, both in respect to the abduction and disappearance of the applicants’ relatives and in the failure by the Russian authorities to carry out a proper investigation.
In each case the Court also agreed that there had been a violation of Article 3, the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment with respect to the applicants themselves, and of Article 5 – the right to liberty and security of person, with respect to the abducted relatives.
In the cases of Malika Yusupova and Others v. Russia (nos. 14705/09, 4386/10, 67305/10, 68860/10, and 70695/10), the applicants were 14 Russian nationals from five families, who at the time of the events lived in various districts of the Chechen Republic (Russia). The case concerned the disappearance of six men - close relatives of the applicants - who were born between 1959 and 1977, allegedly after having been unlawfully detained by Russian military servicemen during special operations in Chechnya.
In each case, the applicants’ relatives were abducted by groups of armed men, most of them wearing camouflage uniforms, in areas under the full control of the Russian federal forces. The applicants have had no news of their missing relatives since the alleged arrests. They complained of the abductions to law-enforcement bodies, and official investigations were opened. Subsequently the proceedings were repeatedly suspended and resumed, and have remained pending for several years without having established who was responsible for the abductions. The Russian Government, in their submissions to the Court, have not challenged the accounts of the events as presented by the applicants, but they have stated that there is no evidence to prove that Russian State officials were involved in the incidents.
Relying on Article 2 (right to life), the applicants complained that their relatives had disappeared after having been detained by State officials and that the Russian authorities had failed to carry out effective investigations into the matter. They further complained of violations of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 5 (right to liberty and security) on account of the mental suffering caused to them by the disappearance of their relatives and the unlawfulness of their relatives’ detention. They also submitted that, in breach of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), they had had no legal remedies available at national level in respect of those complaints.
The Court found: Violation of Article 2 (right to life) - in respect of the applicants’ relatives Violation of Article 2 (investigation)
Violation of Article 3 - in respect of the applicants
Violation of Article 5 - in respect of the applicants’ relatives
Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Articles 2 and 3
application no. 14705/09: EUR 10, 000 (pecuniary damage) to Malika Yusupova, EUR 60, 000 (non- pecuniary damage) to the applicants jointly, and EUR 3, 000 jointly (costs and expenses);
application no. 4386/10: EUR 60, 000 (non-pecuniary damage) to the applicants jointly and EUR 3, 000 jointly (costs and expenses);
application no. 67305/10: EUR 120, 000 to the applicant (non-pecuniary damage);
application no. 68860/10: EUR 60, 000 (non-pecuniary damage) to the applicants jointly and EUR 1, 000 jointly (costs and expenses);
application no. 70695/10: EUR 60, 000 (non-pecuniary damage) to the applicants jointly and EUR 3, 000 jointly (costs and expenses).