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Home » News

New Effective Method for ECHR Applications in North Caucasus

Submitted by on Thursday, 22 October 2009.    1,027 views No Comment
New Effective Method for ECHR Applications in North Caucasus

Three abducted Chechen civilian have been released, after the new method of work by HRC Memorial and EHRAC.

Since 2000 in the network of joint project of HRC Memorial and European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC, London) lawyers applied to European Court of Human Rights regarding 80 cases of disappearances and killings of people in the North Caucasus. The majority of them concerned the events that happened several years before the application process. On the whole the problem was that Russian authorities didn’t investigate serious crimes committed by the officers of Russian occupying authorities. In all decisions regarding disappearances of people in Chechnya European Court came to the conclusion that people were killed by siloviks (Russian occupying forces) after detention. It’s worth noticing that the number of such crimes has been decreasing steadily from year to year till the end of 2008. 2009 is marked by the surge of abductions and killings.

Thereupon since the middle of 2009 the joint project of Memorial and EHRAC changed its practice of applying to the European Court in the cases regarding abductions in the North Caucasus. Now the application is sent to the Court during the first days after the abduction. So the abducted are likely to be alive yet. The new method has two general purposes:

1) to inform the authorities that the application regarding the abduction has been sent to the European Court. This has to give reasons for the authorities to investigate the case effectively. Or to release the abducted if the officers of Russian occupying authorities have been involved in the abduction.

2) to get evidence of abduction and possible involvement of Russian occupying authorities as soon as possible (it’s often impossible to do that if the case regarding the events that happened a year ago or more).

Since June 2009, the project applied to the European Court regarding 6 cases asking to take urgent measures according to  Rules 39-41* of the Rules of the European Court to prevent complete disappearance or killing of the following people:

1. Rustam Kagirov was abducted by armed people (circumstances of the abductions indicate that officers of Russian occupying authorities were involved in the crime) on May 17, 2009 in the street near his own house in Achknoi-Martan district of Chechnya. Public prosecutor’s office raised proceedings regarding the abduction. The application to the European Court was submitted on July 8, 2009.

2. Apti Shamsayev was abducted by armed people (circumstances of the abduction indicate that officers of Russian occupying authorities were involved in the crime) on May 25, 2009 near his own house in Urus-Martan district of Chechnya. Public prosecutor’s office started legal proceedings regarding the abduction. The application to the European Court was submitted on June 10, 2009.

3. Rasambek Telkhigov was abducted by armed people (circumstances of the abductions indicate that officers of Russian occupying authorities were involved in the crime) on June 4, 2009 near his own house in Urus-Martan district of Chechnya. Public prosecutor’s office started legal proceedings regarding the abduction. The application to the European Court was submitted on June 25, 2009.

4. Apti Zaynalov was abducted by armed people (circumstances of the abductions indicate that officers of Russian occupying authorities were involved in the crime) on June 26, 2009 in Grozny (Chechnya). Later, people saw him in a district hospital. He was severly beaten. There were armed people guarding him. Public prosecutor’s office started legal proceedings regarding the abduction. The application to the European Court was submitted on July 15, 2009.

5. Sirazhuddin Shafiev was abducted by armed people (circumstances of the abductions indicate that officers of Russian occupying authorities were involved in the crime). On September 8, 2009 they blocked Shafiev’s car in the middle of the road not far from his house in Derbent (Dagestan). Public prosecutor’s office started legal proceedings regarding the abduction. The application to the European Court was submitted on September 14, 2009.

6. Zelimkhan Gabarov was abducted by armed people (circumstances of the abductions indicate that officers of Russian occupying authorities were involved in the crime) on September 25, 2009 from his own house in Urus-Martan (Chechnya). The application to the European Court was submitted on September 30, 2009.

European Court gave prompt reaction to the applications. The Court sent requests to the Russian authorities. “Memorial” and EHRAC are waiting wheter the European Court decides to apply Rule 39 to one of the cases. Regarding two of the cases the Court denied to apply Rule 39 but gave the case priority. Shamsayev, Telkhigov and Gabarov were released by the abductors and returned home. The first was released in 52 days after the abduction (on July 16), the second – in 42 days (on July 16), and the third – in 8 days (on October 3).

So, in three cases of six (it’s 50 per cent) the efficiency of the new method has been proved by the release of the abducted. Moreover, the European Court has already given priority to such cases. It can also be considered as a positive result.

* In Rules 39-41 urgent temporary measures taken to save the applicant are provided for.

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