ECHR Fines Russia More Than 1.3 Million Euros
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has fined Russia more than 1.3 million Euros over bombing a Chechen village in 2000 and killing of an Ingush civilian in 2004.
Here are the press releases:
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ECHR 280 (2013)
Arapkhanovy v. Russia (no. 2215/05)
The applicants in this case are ten Russian nationals born between 1933 and 2000 who live in the village of Galashki, Sunzhenskiy District, the Republic of Ingushetia (Russia). They are the wife, cousin, children and mother of Beslan Arapkhanov, who was killed during a search of his house on 20 July 2004 by a group of servicemen of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which according
to the Russian Government was conducted in order to find members of illegal armed groups. The second applicant, Beslan Arapkhanov’s cousin, was severely beaten and injured by the servicemen. Relying in particular on Article 2 (right to life), the applicants complained of Beslan Arapkhanov’s killing and of the authorities’ ensuing failure to carry out an effective investigation. Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the second applicant complained of having been ill-treated by State officials and of the authorities’ failure to carry out an effective investigation of the incident. Under the same article, all applicants complained that, as a result of their relative’s killing and the lack of a proper investigation, they had endured profound mental suffering. They further maintained that the search of their home had been in breach of their rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and the home). Finally, under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), the applicants complained that they had been deprived of effective remedies in respect of their rights under Articles 2, 3 and 8.
Violation of Article 2 – in respect of the killing of Beslan Arapkhanov
Violation of Article 2 (procedure) – in respect of the failure to conduct an effective investigation into the circumstances of the killing of Beslan Arapkhanov
Violation of Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment) in respect of the second applicant – on account of his ill-treatment by State servicemen
Violation of Article 3 (procedure) – in respect of the failure to conduct an effective investigation into the ill-treatment of the second applicant
No violation of Article 3 in respect of all the applicants – on account of their mental suffering
Violation of Article 8 in respect of the first and fourth to tenth applicants – on account of the search of their home
Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 in respect of the killing of Beslan Arapkhanov
Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 in respect of the ill-treatment of the second applicant
Violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 8 on account of the search of the first and fourth to tenth applicants’ home
Just satisfaction: EUR 5,000 to the first and fourth to tenth applicants’ jointly, in respect of pecuniary damage; EUR 60,000 to the first and third to tenth applicants’ jointly and EUR 3,000 to the second applicant, in respect of non-pecuniary damage; and EUR 5,000 to the applicants jointly, in respect of costs and expenses.
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ECHR 282 (2013)
Military strike on Chechen village in 2000 was in breach of the Convention, as acknowledged by the Russian Government
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Abdulkhanov and Others v. Russia (application no. 22782/06), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and
a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).
The case concerned a Russian military strike on a village in Chechnya in February 2000, which killed 18 of the applicants’ relatives.
For the first time in a case concerning the armed conflict in Chechnya, the Russian Government acknowledged that there had been a violation of Article 2, both as regards the use of lethal force and as regards the authorities’ obligation to investigate its circumstances.
The applicants are 13 Russian nationals born between 1939 and 1982 who are natives or residents of the village of Aslanbek-Sheripovo, Shatoy district, the Chechen Republic (Russia). After the second military operation in Chechnya had begun in 1999, the village was considered a safe place, as the villagers had received assurances from commanders of the Russian army that there would not be any military strikes on the village as long as no armed fighters would be present there. It therefore came as a surprise to the residents when an air and artillery strike by the Russian military hit the village in the afternoon of 17 February 2000. As a result of the attack, 18 of the applicants’ relatives died; three of the applicants as well as several of their other relatives were wounded.
The applicants’ complaint to the law-enforcement authorities remained unanswered for a long period of time and, in May 2002, the military prosecutor decided not to open a criminal investigation into the attack. The decision was subsequently quashed, but no criminal investigation was opened. According to the Russian Government’s submissions in 2010, the preliminary examination of the case remained pending. The applicants also brought civil proceedings seeking compensation for damages because their relatives had been killed and because they had been wounded themselves. Their claims were eventually rejected in December 2005.
Complaints, procedure and composition of the Court
The applicants complained that their right and the right of their deceased and injured relatives under Article 2 (right to life) had been violated, both by the lethal attack and by the authorities’ failure to conduct an investigation to establish the circumstances of the use of lethal force. Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), the applicants further complained that the court proceedings in which their civil claims for compensation were rejected had not been fair.
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 15 May 2006.
Judgment was given by a Chamber of seven judges, composed as follows:
Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre (Monaco), President,
Elisabeth Steiner (Austria),
Khanlar Hajiyev (Azerbaijan),
Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos (Greece),
Erik Møse (Norway),
Ksenija Turković (Croatia),
Dmitry Dedov (Russia),
and also Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar.
Decision of the Court
The Russian Government submitted that the situation in Chechnya at the time had called for exceptional measures in order to regain control over the Republic, including military measures. However, the Government acknowledged that in the applicants’ case there had been no proper examination of whether the application of lethal force had been justified. The Government therefore accepted that there had been a breach of the applicants’ and their relatives’ right to life, both as regards the use of lethal force and as regards the failure to investigate it properly.
The Court observed that the parties did not dispute that the applicants and their close relatives had become victims of the use of lethal force and that no investigation capable of establishing the circumstances had taken place. Those considerations were sufficient to conclude that there had been a violation of Article 2, both in its substantive and in its procedural aspect.
Articles 6 and 13
The Court found that where, as in the applicants’ case, a criminal investigation into the use of lethal force had been ineffective, the effectiveness of any other remedy was undermined. There had accordingly been a violation of the applicants’ right to an effective remedy under Article 13. Against that background, the Court did not find it necessary to examine separately the complaint under Article 6.
Just satisfaction (Article 41)
The Court held that Russia was to pay the applicants each between 40,000 euros (EUR) and EUR 210,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage (EUR 1,160,000 in total) and that it was to pay twelve of the applicants each between EUR 300 and EUR 900 in respect of pecuniary damage (EUR 5,400 in total).