European Court holds Russia responsible for three enforced disappearances in Chechnya

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SRJI Russian Justice Initiative

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Jun 7, 2011, 11:08:51 AM6/7/11
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European Court holds Russia responsible for three enforced disappearances in Chechnya

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia for the disappearance of three Chechen civilians in 2000, 2002 and 2004, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Kosumova v. Russia (no. 27441/07) are the close relatives of Abdul Kosumov, who disappeared after his detention by Russian federal forces from his home in Mesker-Yurt. In the early morning hours of 22 November 2002 a group of armed Russian servicemen broke into Abdul’s house. Without identifying themselves, they put a mask over Abdul's head and took him outside in his underwear. While some of the servicemen were raiding Abdul's house, others entered his brother's quarters and started shooting at the entrance door. After half an hour, the servicemen let Abdul put on some clothes and took him away. Other servicemen remained in the yard and prevented the applicants from going outside. One other resident of Mesker-Yurt was apprehended the same night as Abdul, and another had been abducted the day before.   

The applicants in Vitayeva and Others v. Russia (no. 27459/07) are the wife, mother and son of Magomed-Emi Kudayev, who disappeared after his detention by Russian and Chechen servicemen from his home in Grozny. In the late evening of 27 March 2004 a group of about ten armed servicemen burst into the applicant's house. Magomed was immediately ordered to get dressed and follow the servicemen. The servicemen left in two UAZ vehicles which were later seen passing through the military checkpoint located on the road to Khankala. Consistent information received by the applicants and confirmed by the case materials indicated that Magomed was likely kidnapped by members of the Vostok battalion and held at their base in Vedeno, and that he was likely subject to torture. 

The applicants in Gerasiyev and Others v. Russia (no. 28566/07) are the relatives of Valid Gerasiyev, who disappeared in February 2000. On 3 February 2000 Valid was collecting firewood when he was wounded by a shell. He took a refuge in a neighboring village and was apprehended by the servicemen during an identity check apparently because he was wounded.

Valid Gerasiyev, Abdul Kosumov,and Magomed Kudayev were never seen again after their abductions and the investigations into their disappearance yielded no results.

In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Valid Gerasiyev, Abdul Kosumov and Magomed Kudayev (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • In all of the cases, the Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the above violations (Article 2);
  • The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • Valid Gerasiyev, Abdul Kosumov and Magomed Kudayev were unlawfully deprived of their liberty (Article 5);
  • The applicants in all of the cases did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations of the right to life (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention).

The applicants were awarded 232 000 euro in respect of material and moral damages. Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicants in Kosumova and Others (no. 27441/07) and Vitayeva and Others (no. 27459/07) in bringing their case to the ECtHR. Chechen lawyer Dokka Itslaev represented the applicants in Gerasiyev and Others (no. 28566/07).

For more information,  

In New York, Vanessa Kogan: +1 347 322 6960

In Utrecht, the Netherlands, Egbert Wesselink: +3162 062 6756

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