Russia Lost Two More Cases at ECHR
The European Court of Human Rights notified in writing two judgements related with two case from Russian occupied Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The ECHR pointed out that the abduction of three young men in 2002 in Chechnya hasn’t been investigated by Russia.
Here is the press relase of ECHR:
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Three young men abducted in Chechnya: one disappeared and two were killed and the authorities did not investigate effectively.
In today’s two Chamber judgments in the cases of Dudarovy v. Russia (application no. 5382/07) and Nasukhanovy v. Russia (no.1572/07), which are not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
Two violations of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in both cases;
Violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) in the Dudarovy case;
Violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) in both cases;
Violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in conjunction with Article 2 (right to life) in both cases.
The case concerned the abduction of three young men in Chechnya from their homes in 2002, the disappearance of one of them and the death of the other two, as well as as the lack of an effective investigation into that.
The applicants are all Russian nationals. They are members of two families – Dudarovy and Nasukhanovy – and parents or the sibling of three young men who disappeared after being kidnapped from their homes in two different villages in Chechnya (Russia).
According to the Dudarovy parents, at the time of the events, their village was under the effective control of the Russian military which had installed a curfew and manned check points at the village’s entry and exit. At around 2 a.m. on 18 November 2002, several men in camouflage uniforms broke a window of their house and rushed in. They wore masks, spoke unaccented Russian and were armed with sub-machine guns. They first asked to see the identity papers of Magomed Dudarov, the son of the applicants, but without even looking at the papers, they grabbed him, carried him outside and loaded him onto a truck. Then they fired two shots in the air and drove off. Magomed’s parents have had no news from him since. They complained to various authorities about their son’s abduction. A criminal investigation was opened on 10 December 2002. It was suspended and reopened several times. Some witnesses, including the applicants, a police officer and the applicants’ neighbours, were interviewed between 2002 and 2009. Starting in January 2003, a few crime scene inspections were carried out.
According to the Nasukhanovy applicants, three of the sons in the family were abducted in the morning of 14 February 2002 from their home by servicemen in yellow uniforms who arrived on military vehicles. After checking the young men’s identity papers, the servicemen told them that they needed to run a check on them in connection with some insurgents who had just been killed following an armed clash with Russian servicemen. The youngest brother was released two days later, severely beaten to the extent that he could not walk. He said that he had not seen his brothers but knew that they had been transferred to the mill where the headquarters of the federal military were located. On 20 February 2002, the Nasukhanovy parents went to a different village and examined two dead bodies burned from head to waist. They recognised their two elder sons and took their bodies home. Fearing for the safety of their youngest son, they did not complain to a prosecutor. A criminal investigation was nonetheless opened into the killing of Movsar and Movladi Nasukhanovy. It was suspended and resumed several times.
The Russian Government did not dispute the fact that Magomed Dudarov and Movsad and Movladi Nasukhanovy were abducted by unknown men in camouflage uniforms from their homes on the dates indicated by the applicants. They also agreed that Movsad and Movladi were found dead four days later. The Government further provided information on the investigative steps taken in the course of the investigations into the abductions. Despite specific requests by the Court, however, the authorities did not disclose most of the contents of the criminal files. In the Dudarovy case, they referred to incompatibility of such a step with domestic legislation concerning the location and activities of military units and special-purpose squads of law enforcement agencies; in the Nasukhanovy case, the Government submitted that since the investigation was still pending, disclosure of the file documents would run contrary to the interests of the parties in the proceedings.
Complaints, procedure and composition of the Court
Relying on Articles 2, 3, 5, and 13, the applicants complained that their relatives were abducted and killed by Russian servicemen, that there had not been an effective investigation into that, that they had suffered as a result of those disappearances, and they could not effectively complain at national level.
The applications were lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 23 January 2007 and 20 December 2006 respectively.
Judgment was given by a Chamber of seven, composed as follows:
Christos Rozakis (Greece), President,
Anatoly Kovler (Russia),
Elisabeth Steiner (Austria),
Dean Spielmann (Luxembourg),
Sverre Erik Jebens (Norway),
Giorgio Malinverni (Switzerland),
George Nicolaou (Cyprus), Judges,
and also Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar.
Decision of the Court:
The Court considered that the applicants in both cases had presented a coherent, convincing and consistent account of their relatives’ abduction, and that that had been supported by witness statements. The fact that a group of armed men in uniforms, driving in a convoy of military vehicles on both occasions, was able to pass freely through checkpoints during curfew hours in the first case, and drive around undisturbed during a special operation tracking down insurgents and their aides in the second case, and that those men arrested the applicants’ relatives in a manner similar to that of State agents, strongly supported the applicants’ allegations that those were State military servicemen conducting special security operations during the time when their relatives were abducted.
Drawing inferences from the Government’s failure to submit the full investigation files, which were in their exclusive possession, or to provide a plausible explanation for the events in question, the Court found that Magomed Dudarov was arrested on 18 November 2002, and Movsad and Movladi Nasukhanovy on 14 February 2002, by State servicemen during security operations. Also, there had been no news of Magomed Dudarov since his abduction, no record of any detention and no explanation from the Russian Government concerning what had happened to him after his arrest. The dead bodies of Movsad and Movladi had been found four days after the men had been detained by State servicemen.
The Court reiterated that the detention of a person, in the context of the conflict in the Chechen Republic, by unidentified servicemen without any subsequent acknowledgment of the detention, could be regarded as life-threatening. The absence of Magomed Dudaroov or of any news of him for more than seven years supported that assumption. He had therefore to be presumed dead following his unacknowledged detention by State servicemen, in violation of Article 2.
As regards Movsad and Movladi Nasukhanovy, while no examination reports of their bodies had been carried out after their death, the Court concluded on the basis of the materials at its disposal that they had died while at the hands of State servicemen and no later than 18 February 2002. There had, therefore, been a violation of Article 2 as regards them too.
The Court also found that there had been a further violation of Article 2 in both cases on account of the authorities’ failure to carry out effective criminal investigations into the circumstances of Magomed’s disappearance and the death of Movsad and Movladi.
The Court noted that the applicants were close relatives of people who had disappeared or had been killed by State servicemen.
In Magomed Dudarov’s case, his relatives had not had any news of him during more than seven years and had not received any plausible explanation by the authorities as to what had happened to him. Consequently, there had been a violation of Article 3 as a result of the applicants’ prolonged mental suffering.
In respect of the the Nasukhanovy applicants, given that they had found the bodies of their sons and brothers four days after those had been abducted, and had also not been prevented from burying them in a proper manner, the Court held that their complaint under Article 3 was inadmissible. The mental suffering they had endured as a result of the disappearance of their loved ones had not lasted so long or reached a dimension and character distinct from the emotional distress which was inevitably caused to relatives of victims of serious human rights violations.
The Court found that all three young men had been held in unacknowledged detention without any of the safeguards contained in Article 5, in a particularly serious violation of Article 5 in both cases.
The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 in both cases, because the criminal investigations into Magomed’s disappearance and into Movsad and Movladi’s death had been ineffective and the effectiveness of any other remedy that might have existed had consequently been undermined.
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court held that Russia was to pay the Dudarovy applicants jointly 60,000 euros (EUR) and the Nasukhanovy applicants jointly EUR 100,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, as well as EUR 4,000 in each case in respect of costs and expenses to be paid directly into the applicants’ legal representatives’ bank account.