Russia is responsible for the disappearance of two women in Chechnya in November 2001, rules European Court

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SRJI Russian Justice Initiative

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Mar 27, 2012, 7:55:54 AM3/27/12
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Russia is responsible for the disappearance of two women in Chechnya
in November 2001, rules European Court

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for
the enforced disappearance of two Chechen women in 2001, Russian
Justice Initiative and its Moscow-based partner organization “Astreya”
reported today.

The applicants in Kadirova and others v Russia (no. 5432/07) are the
close relatives of Aset Yakhyayeva and Milana Betilgiriyeva, who
disappeared after being detained during a special operation conducted
by Russian federal servicemen in Serzhen-Yurt, Chechnya, on 7 November
2001.

Shortly before they were detained, Aset and Milana visited
Serzhen-Yurt, and on the night of 7 November 2001 were sleeping in the
kitchen of a relative’s house. Early that morning, a group of Russian
servicemen broke into the house, saying they were “looking for the
men.” When they found out that there were no men in the house, they
threatened to gun down the women, took money and jewelry, and said
they would stay in the house until morning and then take the women to
the military commander’s office to “decide what to do with them.”
Several hours later, Aset and Milana went missing from the house, and
have not been seen since. Tracks left by armored vehicles were
discovered near the house.

The applicants soon found out that the previous night a special
operation had been conducted in Serzhen-Yurt, led by the military
commander of Shalinskiy District, Mr. Nakhaev, who promised to check
the women’s passports and also supplied a hand-written note
instructing to pick up Aset and Milana from the Shali Temporary Office
of the Interior (“VOVD”). But the officers on duty at the Shali VOVD
had no information about the whereabouts of Aset and Milana. According
to the applicants, they obtained information that Aset and Milana had
been transferred from the DON-2 military unit in Shali to Khankala
military base, where they had been tortured and made to confess to
their participation in illegal armed groups.

The Court was particularly critical of the authorities’ delay in
conducting essential investigative steps. For example, Commander
Nakhaev was interviewed as a witness only three years after the
disappearance of the women, and even then the interviews were
“superficial in character.” Although Commander Nakhaev explicitly
acknowledged the arrests of several residents of Serzhen-Yurt, no
attempts were made by investigators to identify the military units
which participated in the special operation.

In its unanimous judgment, the European Court found that:

The right to life has been violated in respect of Aset Yakhyayeva
and Milana Betilgiriyeva (Article 2 of the European Convention on
Human Rights);
The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective
investigation into the disappearance of Aset Yakhyayeva and Milana
Betilgiriyeva (Article 2);
The manner in which the applicant’s complaints were dealt with by
the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Article 3);
Aset Yakhyayeva and Milana Betilgiriyeva 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 applicants were awarded 120,000 euro in respect of moral damages.
Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicants in bringing their
case to the ECtHR in January 2007.

For more information,

In Moscow, Anastasia Kushleyko, Legal Director, “Astreya:” +7 (495)
915-0869, +7 (962) 932-7878.

In Moscow, Vanessa Kogan, Executive Director, Russian Justice
Initiative; Director, “Astreya”: +7 (495) 915-0869, +7 925 863 5111.

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