The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the abduction and disappearance of 36 men from their homes in Chechnya between 2000 and 2006, Russian Justice Initiative and its partner organization, Astreya, reported today.
The applicants in the case Pitsayeva and others v Russia are 90 family members of the disappeared men, who alleged that their relatives had been abducted from their homes in various regions of Chechnya by Russian servicemen. The judgment united 20 separate applications lodged with the Court between 2008 and 2010, by independent lawyers as well as several human rights organizations, including Russian Justice Initiative, which lodged 9 out of the 20 applications. Since mid-2012, the Court’s joining of applications concerning disappearances in Chechnya has testified to the systematic nature of grave human rights violations in the region.
The Court found sufficient evidence in each of the applications to indicate that the applicants’ relatives had been abducted in life-threatening circumstances by state representatives, in certain cases during special operations which the Government did not deny had taken place. Despite ample evidence available in the cases pointing to the involvement of state servicemen in the abductions and numerous witnesses, none of the investigations were completed. Following on its findings in the landmark judgment of Aslakhanova v Russia of December 2012, concerning systematic non-investigation of disappearances in the North Caucasus, the Court found that the investigations opened into the abduction of the applicants’ relatives bore the same hallmarks of ineffectiveness as described in Aslakhanova, thus finding that the criminal investigations did not constitute an effective remedy.
In its unanimous judgment, the Court found, among other findings, that:
- The right to life has been violated in respect of all 36 of the abducted men (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights), into which no effective investigation was conducted;
- The applicants suffered inhuman and degrading treatment on account of the Government’s response to their complaints concerning the disappearance of their relatives (Article 3 of the Convention);
- The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).
The applicants were awarded a total of euro 2.3 million in pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.
For more information, please contact:
In Moscow, Furkat Tishayev, Legal Director, “Astreya”: +7 (985) 269-9856.
In Moscow, Vanessa Kogan, Director, “Astreya,” +7 (925) 863 5111.