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Home » ECHR Cases

Alaudinova – Bitiyeva and Others – Gakiyev and Gakiyeva – Israilova and Others – Khachukayev v. Russia

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Alaudinova – Bitiyeva and Others – Gakiyev and Gakiyeva – Israilova and Others – Khachukayev v. Russia

The ECHR cases of Alaudinova v. Russia (application no. 32297/05),  Bitiyeva and Others v. Russia (application no. 36156/04), Gakiyev and Gakiyeva v. Russia (application no. 3179/05), Israilova and Others v. Russia (application no. 4571/04), Khachukayev v. Russia (application no. 28148/03).

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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

338

23.04.09

Press release issued by the Registrar

FIVE CHAMBER JUDGMENTS AGAINST RUSSIA CONCERNING DISAPPEARANCES AND DEPRIVATION OF LIFE IN CHECHNYA

The European Court of Human Rights has today notified in writing five Chamber judgments concerning Russia, none of which are final. The applicants in all five cases alleged that their relatives disappeared – and in three of the cases were then killed – after being unlawfully detained by State agents and that the domestic authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation into their allegations. They relied, in particular, 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).

1. Alaudinova v. Russia (no. 32297/05)

The applicant in the first case is a Russian national who lives in Urus-Martan (Chechen Republic). She is the mother of Bekkhan Alaudinov, born in 1976, who has not been seen since the early hours of 8 November 2001 when he was abducted from the family home by a group of men, armed with machine guns and wearing camouflage uniforms, and driven away in a military lorry. Since the day of the abduction, Ms Alaudinova has repeatedly applied in person and in writing to various public bodies searching for her son and asking for assistance with it. An investigation was opened into the abduction, and was suspended and resumed on several occasions for failure to identify the perpetrators. Although Ms Alaudinova was granted the status of a victim, she and the Government differed on the question of whether she was kept abreast of all decisions taken during the investigation: while Ms Alaudiniva alleged that she was refused access to the criminal case file and no information about the progress of the investigation was provided to her, the Government submitted that she was duly informed of the progress of the investigation. The investigation is still apparently on-going. Despite a specific request by the Court, the Government did not disclose any documents from the investigation file referring to the incompatibility of such an action with domestic legislation.

Violations of Article 2 (right to life in respect of Bekkhan Alaudinov and lack of effective investigation into his disappearance)

Violation of Article 3 (inhuman treatment as a result of mental suffering of the applicant, mother of Bekkhan Alaudinov)

Violation of Article 5 (unacknowledged detention of Bekkhan Alaudinov)

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

The Court awarded the applicant EUR 35,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 1,280 in respect of costs and expenses.

2. Bitiyeva and Others v. Russia (no. 36156/04)

The applicants in the second case are 38 Russian nationals who live in Duba-Yurt (Chechen Republic). They are the close relatives of Bayali and Sharip Elmurzayev, born in 1968 and 1971; Khusin and Isa Khadzhimuradov, born in 1975 and 1965; Lechi Shaipov, born in 1960; Apti Murtazov, born in 1964; Zelimkhan Osmayev, born in 1975; and, Idris Elmurzayev, born in 1974. They were abducted from their family homes in the early hours of 27 March 2004 by groups of armed men, some wearing uniforms and masks. Starting on the day of the abduction, the applicants complained to a number of State law-enforcement agencies about the abduction. Investigation into the abductions was opened; the applicants and the Government differ as to its date. The applicants alleged that government officials had told them in unofficial contacts that their relatives were held in the military base in Khankala, and had given them a copy of an unsigned and undated document which stated that the inquiry into the abduction of their relatives had established that they were being held in the Khankala. The Government submitted that there was no such document in the investigation file. The applicants provided a copy of the latter document to the Court.

On 9 April 2004, an unidentified person discovered the dead bodies of the applicants’ relatives near the village of Serzhen-Yurt in the Chechen Republic. The Government submitted that criminal proceedings were opened into the killings of the applicants’ relatives, on the day when the bodies were found.

Upon the request of the Court, the Government produced several documents related to the investigation into the abduction of the applicants’ relatives, but refused to produce the entire file referring to incompatibility with domestic legislation. The Government also submitted a domestic court judgment of October 2004 awarding monetary compensation for non-pecuniary damage inflicted by the unlawful actions of a prosecutor’s office.

Violations of Article 2 (right to life in respect of Bayali and Sharip Elmurzayev, Khusin and Isa Khadzhimuradov; Lechi Shaipov, Apti Murtazov, Zelimkhan Osmayev, and Idris Elmurzayev and lack of effective investigation into their deaths)

Violation of Article 5 (unacknowledged detention of Bayali and Sharip Elmurzayev, Khusin and Isa Khadzhimuradov; Lechi Shaipov, Apti Murtazov, Zelimkhan Osmayev)

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

The Court awarded the applicants sums ranging from EUR 4,200 to EUR 35,000 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 8,608 in respect of costs and expenses.

3. Gakiyev and Gakiyeva v. Russia (no. 3179/05)

The applicants in the third case are two Russian nationals who live in Argun (Chechen Republic). They are the parents of Idris Gakiyev, born in 1980, who was abducted from his family home in the early hours of 30 November 2003 by a group of armed men wearing camouflage uniforms. After the kidnapping, the perpetrators severely beat the father of Idris, and when he lost consciousness, they poured petrol over his body and set the family house on fire. Idris’ father managed to escape the burning house after the perpetrators had left. After the abduction, the applicants complained to various State agencies and officials; most of their complaints were forwarded to different prosecutors’ offices. An investigation was opened into the abduction, and the applicants were informed on a few occasions that it was on-going.

Idris Gakiyev’s dead body showing signs of a violent death was found on 29 March 2004. The Government submitted that an investigation into his murder was opened on the same day the body was found.

Both investigations were joined and were still on-going. Despite specific request by the Court, the Government did not disclose any documents of the investigation file referring to incompatibility with domestic legislation.

Violations of Article 2 (right to life in respect of Idris Gakiyev and lack of effective investigation into his abduction and death)

Violations of Article 3 (inhuman treatment in respect of the father of Idris Gakiyev of account of him being ill-treated by servicemen and lack of effective investigation into this ill-treatment)

Violation of Article 3 (inhuman treatment as a result of mental suffering of both applicants)

Violation of Article 5 (unacknowledged detention of Idris Gakiyev)

Violation of Article 13 (lack of an effective remedy) in connection with Articles 2 and 3

The Court awarded the applicants jointly EUR 35,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 4,500 in respect of costs and expenses.

4. Israilova and Others v. Russia (no. 4571/04)

The applicants in the fourth case are 16 Russian nationals who live in Gekhi and Kulary (Chechen Republic). They are the close relatives of Sharpuddin Israilov, born in 1973, and Adlan Dovtayev, born in 1971, who were stopped at a checkpoint by a group of armed men in military-style camouflage uniforms on 30 December 2002 and driven to Khankala military base, where, according to the Government they were questioned in connection with a terrorist attack of the House of Government which had taken place in December 2002. The following day they were tied up and blindfolded and driven away in a military vehicle. They have not been seen since.

The disappearance of the applicants’ relatives was reported by a number of international non-governmental organisations. Immediately after the abduction, the applicants verbally reported the incident to the authorities, and followed up by sending numerous written complaints asking for assistance with finding the disappeared young men. An investigation was opened into the abductions and the applicants were informed several times that the authorities were working towards finding those responsible. Despite specific request by the Court, the Government did not disclose any documents of the investigation file referring to incompatibility with domestic legislation.

Violations of Article 2 (right to life in respect of Adlan Dovtayev and Sharpuddin Israilov and lack of effective investigation into their disappearance)

Violation of Article 3 (inhuman treatment as a result of mental and emotional suffering of both parents of Sharpuddin Israilov, and of the mother, wife and children of Adlan Dovtayev) and no violation of Article 3 in respect of the rest of the applicants

Violation of Article 5 (unacknowledged detention of Adlan Dovtayev and Sharpuddin Israilov)

Violation of Article 13 (lack of an effective remedy) in connection with Article 2 and no violation of Article 13 in connection with Article 3 in respect of Adlan Dovtayev and Sharpuddin Israilov

The Court awarded the applicants sums ranging from EUR 500 to EUR 34,000 in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 4,500 in respect of costs and expenses.

5. Khachukayev v. Russia (no. 28148/03)

The applicant in the fifth case is a Russian national who lives in Goyty (Chechen Republic). He is the father of Murad Khachukayev, born in 1974, who was abducted from the family home in the early hours of 5 February 2003 by a group of armed, masked men wearing camouflage uniforms.

The remains of his body were found several days later, blown apart on a collective farm outside of Goyty. Investigation was opened into the abduction, and later the killing of Murad Khachukayev. Although it had failed to establish the identity of the perpetrators, the Government submitted that it was still in progress. Upon a request by the Court, the Government submitted an update of the investigation, but no documents from the investigation file referring to incompatibility with domestic legislation.

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

Violations of Article 2 (right to life in respect of Murad Khachukayev and lack of effective investigation into his abduction and death)

Violation of Article 5 (unacknowledged detention of Murad Khachukayev)

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

The Court awarded the applicant EUR 35,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, and EUR 8,150 in respect of costs and expenses.

***

Additional information concerning the Court’s findings in these cases

In all five cases the Court found it established that the applicants’ relatives had been apprehended, and in three of the cases killed, by State servicemen, and that those missing men, who had not been found, had to be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by State agents. In particular, in the cases of Alaudinova and Israilova and others, the Court noted that the men or any news of them have been missing for several years, and that the Government had failed to produce reliable explanation as to what happened to them after their abduction. In the case of Bitiyeva and Others, the Court held that the men had been abducted by State agents in particular because heavy armoured military vehicles, like those used during the abduction, had been presumably in the exclusive possession of the State at the time, given that the village had been under the firm control of the federal forces during that period. The Court also concluded that the applicants’ relatives had died while being detained by State agents, as their bodies had been found with multiple gunshot wounds after they had been taken into custody earlier. In the case of Gakiyev and Gakiyeva, the Court considered that the applicants’ son remained under the control of State servicemen from the moment of his abduction until his killing, and in the case of Khachukayev, the Court, having noted that the domestic proceeding had assumed a link between the abduction and the killings of the applicant’s son, found that he had been executed extra-judicially by State agents. In all five case the Court found that the Government had been responsible for the deaths, and presumed deaths, of the applicants’ relatives and that there had been therefore a violation of Article 2 in respect of all missing and killed men.

In all five cases, the Court further held that there had been violations of Article 2 in view of the authorities’ failure to carry out effective investigations into the circumstances in which the applicants’ relatives had disappeared and/or been killed.

The Court also found that certain of the applicants had suffered distress and anguish as a result of the disappearance of their relatives and their inability to find out what had happened to them. The manner in which their complaints had been dealt with had to be considered to constitute inhuman treatment, in violation of Article 3. In the case of Gakiyev and Gakiyeva, a further violation of that Article was found in respect of the father of the abducted man, in particular on the basis of the witness statements of his wife and a medical report certifying his injuries and the time he had sustained them, as the Court found he had been ill-treated during his son’s abduction.

The Court found in all five cases that the applicants’ relatives 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.

Lastly, in all five cases there had been a violation of Article 13 in connection with Article 2, as the investigations into the disappearances and killings of the applicants’ relatives had been ineffective and had consequently undermined the effectiveness of any other remedy that might have existed. In the case of Gakiyev and Gakiyeva, the Court also found a violation of Article 13 in connection with Article 3 in respect of the ill-treatment of the abducted man’s father by the servicemen.

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