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Home » ECHR Cases

Turluyeva and Khalidova – Taysumov and Others v. Russia

Submitted by on Thursday, 14 May 2009.    1,314 views No Comment
Turluyeva and Khalidova – Taysumov and Others v. Russia

The ECHR cases of Turluyeva and Khalidova v. Russia (application no. 12417/05),  Taysumov and Others v. Russia (application no. 21810/03).

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EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

392

14.05.09

Press release issued by the Registrar

TWO CHAMBER JUDGMENTS IN RESPECT OF RUSSIA CONCERNING DISAPPEARANCES AND DEATHS IN CHECHNYA

The European Court of Human Rights has today notified in writing the following two Chamber judgments concerning Russia, neither of which is final. In one of the cases, the applicants alleged that their relative had disappeared after being unlawfully detained by State agents; in the other case, they alleged that their relatives had been killed during an artillery attack and that the domestic authorities had failed to conduct an effective investigation into their allegations. They relied, in particular, on Article 2 (right to life), Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Article 5 (right to liberty and security) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

1. Turluyeva and Khamidova v. Russia (no. 12417/05)

The applicants are two Russian nationals who were born in 1969 and 1940 respectively and live in the village of Alleroy in the Kurchaloyevskiy District of the Chechen Republic. The first applicant is the wife of Aslanbek Khamidov, who was born in 1965. The second applicant is his mother. Aslanbek Khamidov was seen for the last time at around 10 a.m. on 25 October 2000, when he was taken from the family home, supposedly for an identity check, by approximately ten armed men wearing camouflage uniforms, and was driven away in an armoured vehicle. In March 2001 the prosecutor’s office of the Chechen Republic forwarded the application lodged by the NGO Memorial concerning Aslanbek Khamidov’s disappearance to the interdistrict prosecutor’s office. An investigation was instituted into the kidnapping and was subsequently suspended and resumed several times over an eight-year period, owing to failure to identify those responsible. The first applicant was granted victim status in November 2002. However, she alleged that the information provided to her on the progress of the investigation had been insufficient and fragmentary and that the investigation had been ineffective. The investigation is apparently still in progress.

Despite an express request by the Court, the Government disclosed scarcely any documents from the investigation file, apart from the transcript of a witness statement given by one of the villagers arrested at the same time as Mr Khamidov. They contended that domestic law prohibited such disclosure.

Violations of Article 2 (right to life) on account of the death of Aslanbek Khamidov and the absence of an effective investigation into his disappearance

Violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman treatment) on account of the mental suffering endured by the applicants

Violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) on account of the unacknowledged detention of Aslanbek Khamidov

Violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken in conjunction with Article 2

The Court made awards of 10,000 euros (EUR) and EUR 25,000 to the applicants in respect of non-pecuniary damage. It awarded them jointly EUR 3,000 for pecuniary damage and EUR 5,500 for costs and expenses.

2. Taysumov and Others v. Russia (no. 21810/03)

The applicants are three Russian nationals who live in Chechen-Aul in the Groznenskiy District of the Chechen Republic. They were born in 1942, 1944 and 2002 respectively. They are the parents and daughter of Kazbek Taysumov, born in 1972 who, together with his wife (Zulpat Eskirkhanova, born in 1978) and his elder daughter (Ayshat Eskirkhanova, born in 1999), was killed on 7 September 2002 in an alleged artillery attack on his village during which his house was hit. The applicants assessed the material damage and noted the serial numbers of what they took to be shells. They lodged complaints at various levels and made several requests to be informed of the progress of the investigation. The first applicant was granted victim status. The first phase of the investigation conducted by the civilian prosecutor’s office in September 2002 referred to shelling by federal troops stationed near the village; however, in November 2002 the military prosecutor’s office, on the basis of the conclusions of army experts, stated that the damage had been caused by explosive devices laid by illegal armed groups. The applicants contested those findings. The investigation was subsequently suspended and resumed several times owing to failure to identify those responsible. In 2006 it was restarted and is still in progress. At the request of the Court, the Government produced a number of documents relating to the investigation. However, they declined to forward the case file in its entirety, stating that domestic law prohibited them from so doing.

Violations of Article 2 (right to life) on account of the deaths of Ayshat Eskirkhanova, Zulpat Eskirkhanova and Kazbek Taysumov and the lack of an effective investigation in that regard

No violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman treatment)

Violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken in conjunction with Article 2

The Court made awards of EUR 1,500 for pecuniary damage, EUR 52,500 for non-pecuniary damage and EUR 6,650 for costs and expenses.

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Further information concerning the Court’s findings in these cases

In the case of Turluyeva and Khamidova v. Russia, the Court found it established that Mr Khamidov had been apprehended by Russian servicemen and, since he had not been found, must be presumed dead following his unacknowledged detention by State agents. The Court noted that the applicants’ relative had not been seen, nor had there been any news of him, for several years and that the Government had not advanced any plausible explanation as to what had become of him. The Court concluded that he had been abducted by State agents, taking into account, among other things, the presumption that armoured vehicles of the type used during Mr Khamidov’s abduction had been in the exclusive possession of the State at the time of the events, when the village of Alleroy had been under tight control by federal forces. The only armed men who could have moved freely in the village would have been State servicemen. In Taysumov and Others v. Russia, the Court stressed that it was unlikely that the explosive devices which caused the death of the applicants’ relatives had been laid by terrorist groups, considering it more likely, and consistent with the facts and witness statements, that they had been fired by the troops stationed nearby, as emphasised in the initial stage of the investigation. In both cases the Court held that the Government was responsible for the confirmed or presumed deaths of the applicants’ relatives, and that there had therefore been a violation of Article 2 in respect of the individuals who had disappeared or been found dead.

The Court further held in both cases that Article 2 had been breached on account of the failure of the competent authorities to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and/or death of the applicants’ relatives.

It also considered that, with regard to the applicants in Turluyeva and Khamidova, the disappearance of their relative and their inability to discover what had become of him had been a source of distress and anxiety. It held that the way in which the authorities had dealt with their complaints amounted to inhuman treatment contrary to Article 3.

In this case the Court found that the missing individual had been held in unacknowledged detention and had therefore been deprived of the guarantees of Article 5 of the Convention. This amounted to a particularly serious breach of the right to liberty and security under that Article.

Finally, in both cases the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 2, as the investigations into the disappearance and death of the applicants’ relatives had not been effective, thus rendering ineffective any other remedies that may have existed.

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