European Court of Human Rights Finds Russia Responsible for Two Enforced Disappearances in Chechnya

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SRJI Russian Justice Initiative

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Oct 28, 2010, 8:06:36 AM10/28/10
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European Court of Human Rights Finds Russia Responsible for Two Enforced Disappearances in Chechnya

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the disappearance of two Chechen men detained at their home by Russian federal troops in 2003, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Sasita Israilova and Others v. Russia are the parents, brother, wives and children of Ilyas and Isa Yansuyev, who were abducted by Russian servicemen in Grozny, Chechnya in the early morning hours of 13 February 2003. Ilyas and Isa Yansuyev, their families and a male friend of the family were asleep when approximately forty Russian servicemen suddenly forced open the entrance door of Ilyas Yansuyev's flat and burst inside. Some of them wore masks and were speaking unaccented Russian. The servicemen hit Ilyas’ wife on the head with a rifle butt, tied her arms behind her back and covered her mouth with adhesive tape. Then they put her on the floor and covered her body with a blanket, and one of the soldiers sat on her back for an hour so that she could not move. The servicemen also put a pillow over the face of Ilyas’ eight-month-old daughter, who was sleeping.  

During their search of the flat, the soldiers beat Ilyas Yansuyev with their rifle butts before forcing him, along with Isa and their family friend, out into the street and driving them away in the direction of the Khankala military base. Ilyas’ wife and daughter were aided by neighbors who arrived at the flat after the abduction.  

Ilyas and Isa were never seen again. The investigation into their disappearance produced no results, despite information obtained from several servicemen regarding the fate of the two men.     

The Court was particularly critical of the Russian government’s refusal to submit to the Court the materials from the criminal case file, citing the government’s contradictory approach and practice regarding disclosure in similar cases from Chechnya (for example, in Khashiyev and Akayeva v. Russia at § 46, Magomadov and Magomadov v. Russia at §§ 36 and 82, Khatsiyeva v. Russia at §§ 62-63) and qualifying the government’s reliance upon Article 161 of the Russian Criminal Procedure Code as unjustifiable.

 In its unanimous judgment, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Ilyas and Isa Yansuyev (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • 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);
  • Ilyas and Isa Yansuyev were unlawfully deprived of their liberty (Article 5);
  • 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 Government’s failure to provide the Court with the materials of the criminal case file constitutes a refusal to cooperate with the Court in its examination of the case (Article 38(1)).

The applicants were awarded EUR 147,000 in respect of material and moral damages. In bringing their case to the ECtHR the applicants were assisted by the Russian Justice Initiative.

In response to the judgment, Sasita Israilova, the mother of the disappeared men, expressed her frustration with the intransigence of the domestic authorities in her case: “The prosecutor’s office is well aware of who took my sons away, I’ve been there at least a hundred times. But they never have time for me—they are at lunch, or have to go somewhere.”

For more information,  

In Moscow,

Vanessa Kogan: + 7 (495) 915-0869; +7 (925) 863-5111

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