08 November 2007, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) today condemned Russia for non-investigation of torture allegations in Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said. The Court did not, however, find that it had enough evidence to rule that the applicant had been tortured.   

On 23 January 2000, servicemen from the Russian Ministry of the Interior detained Suleyman Medov and seven other men in the Staropromyslovsky district in the city of Grozny, Chechnya. Medov was initally brought to a nearby military encampment and later transferred to Chernokozovo detention centre and detention centres in Mozdok, Pyatigorsk and Stavropol. Medov was finally released on 3 May 2000 and criminal proceedings against him were dropped, officially under a 1999 amnesty.

In his application to the ECHR, Medov complained about the conditions of detention, that he had been tortured during his detention, and that the Russian authorities had failed to properly investigation his allegations of torture.

In its judgment, the Court held that the Russian authorities had violated their obligation under article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights to properly investigate allegations of torture. Medov filed complaints with prosecutor's offices in December 2000, but the authorities refused to open a criminal investigation into the allegations.

The Court considered that Medov's complaints should have raised a resonable suspicion that Medov had been tortured and that the publicly available information about the widespread abuse in the Chernokozovo centre put the authorities under a "special obligation to conduct an effective investigation."

The Chernokozovo detention centre has been severely criticized by human rights organizations, including the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), for allegations of severe ill-treatment of detainees. In a 4 March 2000 statement to Russian officials, the CPT identified "a clear pattern of physical ill-treatment" in the Chernokozovo detention centre. The CPT has also several times criticized Russian authorities for not properly investigating allegations of torture.  

Medov's complaints about conditions of detention and ill-treatment in the detention centres in Pyatigorsk and Stavropol were declared inadmissible on technical grounds. The Court held that the applicant had not produced enough evidence to prove that injuries noted in medical documents had been sustained while in detention in the Chernokozovo detention centre.

Medov was assisted in bringing his application to the ECHR by Maxim Ferschtman a practicing lawyer in the Netherlands, currently with the Open Society Justice Initiative and by Russian Justice Initiative.

On 15 November 2007, the ECHR will also hand down judgement in the case Khamila Isayeva v. Russia concerning the 2001 illegal detention and disappearance of Isayeva's husband.

For more information:

In Moscow, Russia: Ole Solvang, +7  905 527 5978
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

See also:

Judgement: Medov v. Russia
HRW: Welcome to Hell (Medov is referred to as «Aslanbek Digayev»)
CPT: Public Statement of 2001
CPT: Public Statement of 2003
CPT: Public Statement of 2007

RJI: Summaries of Cases Pending Before the ECHR


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