Nasukhanova and Others v. Russia
The ECHR case of Nasukhanova and Others v. Russia (application no. 5285/04).
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Press release issued by the Registrar
NASUKHANOVA and OTHERS v. RUSSIA
Nasukhanova and Others v. Russia (no. 5285/04)
The applicants are six Russian nationals: Zara Khasanovna Nasukhanova, born in 1954; Magomed Dulayevich Kasumov, born in 1936; Razet Magomedovna Kasumova, born in 1976; Luiza Magomedovna Kasumova, born in 1981; Kristina Magomedovna Kasumova, born in 1984; and, Kamila Magomedovna Kasumova, born in 1982. They live in Pervomayskaya (Chechen Republic). They are the parents and sisters of Ruslan Magomedovich Kasumov, born in 1974, who has not been seen since the early hours of 3 February 2003 when he was taken away from a relative’s house in the village of Pervomayskaya by armed men wearing camouflage uniforms.
Relying 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), the applicants alleged that Ruslan Kasumov disappeared after being detained by Russian servicemen and that the domestic authorities failed to carry out an effective investigation into their allegations.
The Court noted that the domestic investigation and witness statements confirmed that the abductors had travelled in four APCs and four Ural vehicles. It considered it unlikely that, as suggested by the Government, illegal armed groups in stolen military vehicles could have moved freely through Russian military check-points and abducted the applicants’ relative. Those elements in particular strongly supported the allegation that Ruslan Kasumov had been apprehended by Russian servicemen. Drawing inferences from the Russian Government’s failure to submit documents – despite specific requests from the Court – to which it exclusively had access and the fact that it had not provided any other plausible explanation for the events in question, the Court considered that the applicants’ relative had been arrested by Russian servicemen during an unacknowledged security operation. There had been no reliable news of Ruslan Kasumov since his disappearance and the Russian Government had not submitted any further explanations. In the context of the conflict in Chechnya, when a person had been detained by unidentified servicemen without any subsequent acknowledgment of their detention, that situation could be regarded as
life-threatening. The absence of the applicants’ relative or any news of him for more than five years corroborated that assumption. Therefore the Court found that Ruslan Kasumov had to be presumed dead following his unacknowledged detention by Russian servicemen. Noting that the authorities had not justified the use of lethal force by their agents, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 2 in respect of the applicants’ relative.
The Court further held that there had been a violation of Article 2 concerning the Russian authorities’ failure to carry out an effective criminal investigation into the circumstances in which Ruslan Kasumov had disappeared.
Furthermore, the Court found that the applicants had suffered, and continued to suffer, distress and anguish as a result of the disappearance of their relative and their inability to find out what had happened to him. The manner in which their complaint had been dealt with by the authorities had to be considered to constitute inhuman treatment, in violation of Article 3.
The Court also found that Ruslan Kasumov 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.
Finally, the Court held that there had been a violation of Article 13 as regards the alleged violation of Article 2, and that no separate issues arose under Article 13 in respect of the alleged violations of Articles 3 and 5.
The Court awarded Ruslan Kasumov’s parents, jointly, EUR 2,000 in respect of pecuniary damage and EUR 25,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage. The Court awarded each of his sisters EUR 2,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage. For costs and expenses the applicants were awarded EUR 3,650. (The judgment is available only in English.)