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Home » ECHR Cases

Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov – Medova v. Russia

Submitted by on Monday, 11 May 2009.    900 views No Comment
Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov – Medova v. Russia

The ECHR cases of Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov v. Russia (application no. 35080/04), Medova v. Russia (application no 25385/04).

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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

30

15.1.2009

Press release issued by the Registrar

CHAMBER JUDGMENTS

ABDURZAKOVA and ABDURZAKOV v. RUSSIA

MEDOVA v. RUSSIA

The European Court of Human Rights has today notified in writing two Chamber judgments concerning Russia, none of which are final. The applicants in these two cases alleged that their relatives disappeared after being detained by Russian servicemen and that the domestic authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation into their allegations. They relied on Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant in the case of Medova also relied on Article 34 (right of individual petition) of the Convention.

1. Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov v. Russia (no. 35080/04)

The applicants in the first case are two Russian nationals: Taisa Sayd Aliyevna Abdurzakova, born in 1962, and her husband, Khavazh Khozh-Akhmedovich Abdurzakov, born in 1949. They live in Urus-Martan (Chechen Republic). They are the parents of Vakha Khavazhovich Abdurzakov, born in 1981, who has not been seen since 25 October 2002 in the early hours of the morning when he was taken from the family home by several armed men in uniform. The Court found as follows:

Violations of Article 2 (right to life and lack of effective investigation)

Violation of Article 3 (inhuman treatment in respect of the applicants)

Violation of Article 5 (unacknowledged detention)

Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 (lack of an effective remedy)

The Court awarded Vakha Abdurzakov’s parents, jointly, 35,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 3,650 for costs and expenses.

2. Medova v. Russia (no. 25385/04)

The applicant in the second case is Zalina Akhmetovna Medova who was born in 1980 and lives in Karabulak, Ingushetia (Russia). The applicant alleges that in the night of 16 June 2004 her husband, whose car had broken down, was abducted by a group of armed men who identified themselves as Federal Security Service (“FSB”) officers. Stopped at a Russian military checkpoint, her husband and his captors, who refused to produce appropriate identity documents, were then taken to Sunzhenskiy District Department of the Interior (“Sunzhenskiy ROVD”) for further enquiries. They were all subsequently released. The applicant’s husband has not been seen since. The Court found as follows:

Violations of Article 2 (right to life and lack of effective investigation)

No violation of Article 3 (inhuman treatment in respect of the applicant’s husband)

Violation of Article 5 (failure to protect right to liberty of the applicant’s husband)

Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 (lack of an effective remedy)

No violation of Article 34 (alleged intimidation of the applicant)

Violation of Article 38 § 1 (a) (refusal to submit documents requested by the Court)

The Court awarded Adam Medov’s wife EUR 35,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 6,420 and 813.25 pounds sterling (approximately EUR 899) for costs and expenses. (The judgments are available only in English.)

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Additional information concerning the Court’s findings in these cases

In the case of Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov, the Court considered that the applicants had presented a generally consistent account of their son’s abduction both during the domestic and Strasbourg proceedings. Indeed, it had been unlikely, as suggested by the Government, that a large group of armed men in uniform, equipped with stolen military vehicles, could have moved freely at that time through Russian military checkpoints without being noticed and apprehend the applicant’s son in his home.

The Court therefore held that the evidence available to it established beyond reasonable doubt that the applicants’ son had died following his unacknowledged detention by Russian servicemen during a security operation. The Court, noting that the Government had not justified the use of lethal force by their agents, concluded that there had been a violation of Article 2 in respect of Vakha Abdurzakov.

In the case of Medova, the Court considered that the evidence submitted was not sufficient to establish to the requisite standard of proof that the armed men who had abducted Adam Medov had indeed been federal servicemen. Nevertheless, the very fact that the applicant’s husband had been abducted in life-threatening circumstances, that is to say by a group of armed men, and the subsequent absence of him or any news of him for four years corroborated the assumption that he could be presumed dead. The Court further considered that the Sunzhenskiy ROVD officers had to have been alarmed by the supposed FSB officers’ suspicious behaviour at the checkpoint, notably their refusal to present identity documents, as they had taken additional measures to verify the captors’ identities and the lawfulness of Adam Medov’s detention. Furthermore, the prosecuting authorities had not verified whether the captors had indeed been FSB officers. Nor had the ROVD officers made copies of documents the captors had presented. Indeed, Adam Medov’s and his captors’ detention had not been logged in any official records. The authorities’ decision to then release the men, which had resulted in Adam Medov’s disappearance, had therefore amounted to a breach of the State’s obligation to take preventive measures to protect those whose life was at risk. Accordingly, the Court found that the State had failed to protect the life of Adam Medov, in breach of Article 2.

In both cases, the Court further held that there had been violations of Article 2 relating to the authorities’ failure to carry out effective criminal investigations into the circumstances in which the applicants’ relatives had disappeared.

In the case of Abdurzakova and Abdurzakov, the Court further found that the applicants had suffered and continued to suffer, distress and anguish as a result of the disappearance of their son and their inability to find out what had happened to him. The manner in which their complaints had been dealt with by the authorities had to be considered to constitute inhuman treatment, in violation of Article 3. It also found that the applicants’ son had been held in unacknowledged detention without any of the safeguards contained in Article 5, which constituted a particularly grave violation of the right to liberty and security enshrined in that article.

In the case of Medova, the Court further found that it had not been established exactly how the applicant’s husband had died and whether he had been subjected to
ill-treatment by his captors. Nor had the applicant alleged that her husband had been ill-treated by the officers at the checkpoint or at the Sunzhenskiy ROVD. It therefore held that there had been no violation of Article 3 in respect of the alleged ill-treatment of the applicant’s husband. However, it considered that the authorities had failed to bring to an end Adam Medov’s arbitrary deprivation of liberty, despite having had every means to do, in breach of Article 5.

In both cases the Court found that there had been a violation of Article 13 as regards the alleged violation of Article 2. It held, however, that there had been no violation of Article 13 as regards the alleged violation of Article 3 in respect of Adam Medov.

Lastly, the Court held unanimously that in the case of Medova, there had been a failure to comply with Article 38 § 1 (a) in that the Government had refused to submit documents requested by the Court, but that there had been no violation of Article 34 in respect of the alleged intimidation of the applicant.

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