Isigova and Others v. Russia
The ECHR case of Isigova and Others v. Russia (application no. 6844/02)
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Press release issued by the Registrar
ISIGOVA and OTHERS v. RUSSIA
Isigova and Others v. Russia (application no. 6844/02)
The applicants are five Russian nationals who live in Sernovodsk, a village in Chechnya (Russia). Tsalipat and Aminat Isigova are the mother and sister of Apti Isigov, born in 1978. Khalisat Umkhanova, Taisiya Musayeva and Arbi Umkhanov are the mother, wife and son of Zelimkhan Umkhanov, born in 1972.
The case concerned the applicants’ allegation that Apti Isigov and Zelimkhan Umkhanov disappeared on 2 July 2001 after being unlawfully detained by Russian servicemen during a mopping up operation in their village and that the Russia 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), 6 (right to a fair hearing) 13 (right to an effective remedy), 34 (right of individual petition) and 38 § 1 (a) (obligation to furnish necessary facilities for the examination of the case) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Court of Human Rights found it established that the two men had been detained by servicemen during a security operation. It further noted that there had been no reliable news of the applicants’ relatives since July 2001 and that the Russian Government had not submitted any explanation as to what had happened to them after their detention. In the context of the conflict in the Chechen Republic, when a person was detained by unidentified servicemen without any subsequent acknowledgment of their detention, that could be regarded as life-threatening. The absence of Apti Isigov and Zelimkhan Umkhanov or of any news of them for several years supported that assumption. They both therefore had to be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by State servicemen. Accordingly, the Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 2 in respect of Apti Isigov and Zelimkhan Umkhanov. It also held unanimously that there had been a further violation of Article 2 concerning the Russian authorities’ failure to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances in which the applicants’ relatives had disappeared.
The Court also considered that the applicants had suffered, and continued to suffer, 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 by the authorities had to be considered to constitute inhuman treatment, in violation of Article 3. The Court also held unanimously that there had been no violation of Article 3 in respect of Apti Isigov and Zelimkhan Umkhanov, in the absence of any reliable information about their alleged ill-treatment or about the manner in which they had died.
The Court further found 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.
It also held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 13 in respect of the alleged violation of Article 2. The Court further held that no separate issues arose under Article 13 in respect of the alleged violations of Articles 3 and 5 and under Article 34. It finally held that there had been no need to examine the applicants’ complaint under Article 6 and that there had been no failure to comply with Article 38 § 1 (a).
The Court awarded 5,000 euros (EUR) to Tsalipat Isigova in respect of pecuniary damage and EUR 35,000, jointly, to Tsalipat and Aminat Isigova for non-pecuniary damage. Khalisat Umkhanova, Taisiya Musayeva and Arbi Umkhanov were awarded EUR 15,000, jointly, in respect of pecuniary damage, and EUR 40,000, jointly, for non-pecuniary damage. The applicants were also awarded EUR 17,737 in respect of costs and expenses. (The judgment is available only in English.)