European Court of Human Rights Finds Russia Responsible for mass civilian losses during bombardment of village and for enforced disappearance in Chechnya

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Dec 2, 2010, 8:17:57 AM12/2/10
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European Court of Human Rights Finds Russia Responsible for mass civilian losses during bombardment of village and for enforced disappearance in Chechnya

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the death or injury of 29 Chechen civilians in 2000 and the disappearance of one Chechen man in 2003, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Dzhabrailova and Dzhabrailova v. Russia (no. 15563) are the mother and aunt of Isa Aytamirov, who was abducted by Russian servicemen from his home in the village of Novyi Tsentoroy in Chechnya in the early morning of 19 February 2003. Isa, his aunt and other relatives were asleep when around thirty Russian military servicemen arrived on three APCs and broke into their house. Threatening Isa’s relatives with their weapons, Isa was taken outside barefoot and in his underwear and was loaded into one of the APCs. His aunt tried to follow the APC, but one of the servicemen began beating her with his rifle-butt and she lost consciousness.  Isa was driven away in an unknown direction and was never seen again. The investigation into his disappearance produced no results.

Isa’s aunt was treated in hospital for the injuries she sustained during Isa’s detention, and immediately submitted a complaint about the ill-treatment, but her medical records were then seized by investigators and never returned to her.

The circumstances of the case Abuyeva and Others v. Russia (no. 27065/05) are closely related to those of Isayeva v Russia, one of the Court’s first judgments concerning the Second Chechen conflict. In both cases, large numbers of civilians were killed or injured when the village of Katyr-Yurt—designated a “safe-zone”—was indiscriminately bombarded by federal forces with artillery and attack aircraft over several days in early February 2000 in an attempt to eliminate rebel forces hiding in the village. In Abuyeva, the Court reiterated in the strongest terms the incompatibility of the military operation with the requirements of the Convention, and for the first time in a case from Chechnya, deplored Russia’s lack of implementation of the Court’s judgment in Isayeva in relation to the continued ineffectiveness of the domestic investigation into the violations, an issue currently being examined by the Committee of Ministers.

The Court’s statements in this regard draw into sharp relief the status of over 100 cases from the North Caucasus currently pending before the Committee of Ministers which have yet to be fully implemented by Russia.

 In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

  • In Dzhabrailova, the right to life was violated in respect of Isa Aytamirov into which no effective investigation was conducted (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • Zaynab Dzhabrailova (Isa Aytamirov’s aunt) was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment into which no effective investigation was conducted (Article 3);
  • Isa Aytamirov was unlawfully deprived of his liberty (Article 5);
  • In Abuyeva, the right to life was violated in respect of all 29 applicants, into which no effective investigation was conducted (Article 2);
  • Specific measures to comply with the Court’s judgment inevitably include a “new, independent investigation” (Article 46);
  • In both cases, The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
  • 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 in Dzhabrailova were awarded EUR 74,000 in respect of material and moral damages. The applicants in Abuyeva were awarded almost EUR 2 million (1,850,000) in moral damages.

In the former case, the applicants were represented by the Russian Justice Initiative and in the latter by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre and the Memorial Human Rights Centre.

See also:

Committee of Ministers Information Documents, “Violations of the ECHR in the Chechen Republic: Russia’s compliance with the European Court’s judgments” CM/Inf/DH(2006)32; “Actions of the security forces in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation: general measures to comply with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,” CM/Inf/DH(2008)33 and CM/Inf/DH (2010) 26.  

For more information,  

In Moscow,

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

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