08 January 2009, Thursday

The European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter ECtHR) today unanimously condemned Russia for grave human rights violations in six cases from Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative said. The cases concern the enforced disappearance of six men and the extra-judicial execution of thirteen men between March 2002 and October 2002 in different locations in Chechnya.

The applicants in Arzu Akhmadova and Others v. Russia (13670/03) and Dzhamayeva and Others v. Russia (43170/04) are relatives of ten men who disappeared between 6 and 13 March 2002 in the village of Stariye Atagi, Chechnya, during a large security operation by Russian federal forces under the command of general Borisov. The ten men are Aslan Akhmadov, Said-Selim Kanayev, Amir Pokayev, Islam Chagayev, Ibragim Magomadov, Ismail Dzhamayev, Magomed Isambayev, Adlan Baysarov, Timur Khadzhayev and Abdul-Naser Zakayev. Witnesses testified that the military organized a filtering point at the poultry yard and the mill, where they detained more than a dozen villagers. In the course of the security operation villagers discovered several burned bodies in an abandoned house and in a car flattened by a tank. Despite repeated requests from the relatives of the missing the authorities refused to conduct a forensic examination, allegedly for lack of funds. Although the authorities initially recognized that the ten men were apprehended during the security operation in Starye Atagi, they later claimed that the men were insurgents, who had been killed in fighting with federal forces. In June 2004 a forensic examination of the burned bodies established the identity of six bodies as belonging to Aslan Akhmadov, Said-Selim Kanayev, Amir Pokayev, Islam Chagayev, Ibragim Magomadov and Ismail Dzhamayev. The bodies of Magomed Isambayev, Adlan Baysarov, Timur Khadzhayev and Abdul-Naser Zakayev have not been found.

“We are very happy with today's judgment. However, for us the most important thing is to find out exactly what happened to our loved-ones. We hope this judgment will help us establish this”, said Taisa Kanayeva, the aunt of Said-Selim Kanayev.

In Abdulkadyrova and Others v. Russia (27180/03) the Court held Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of Ayndi Dzabayev who was arrested by military servicemen at his home in the town of Urus-Martan, Chechnya, on 8 September 2002. He was taken away in an APC and has not been seen since. In another case, Zakriyeva and Others v. Russia (20583/04), the Court faulted Russia for the ineffective investigation into the disappearance of Aslanbek Khamzayev near the village of Aldy, Chechnya, on 25 June 2002. It did not, however, find that it had enough evidence to rule that military servicemen were responsible for Aslanbek's detention and subsequent disappearance.

In Shakhgiriyeva and Others v. Russia (27251/03) Russian federal forces arrested eight men during a large security operation in the village of Chechen-Aul, Chechnya, on 23 October 2002. Two of them were subsequently released. The other six men disappeared, including four relatives of the applicants: Magomed Shakhgiriyev, Ali Magomadov, Ismail Umarov, and Umalat Abayev. On 3 November 2002 three villagers from Chechen-Aul, including two relatives of the applicants, Aslan Israilov and Khasin Yunusov, went to Grozny to search for the disappeared men. They never returned. On 8 November 2002 the bodies of five of the six men who disappeared on 23 October 2002 were discovered in a forest near the village of Vinogradnoye, Chechnya. On 18 April 2003 the bodies of the three villagers who went missing on 3 November 2002 were found near Khankala, the main Russian military base in Chechnya. The ECtHR concluded that Magomed, Ali, Ismail and Umalat were killed by military servicemen but found insufficient evidence to draw the same conclusion with regard to Aslan and Khasin.

Dangayeva and Taramova v. Russia (1896/04) concerns the killing by military servicemen of Saidkhasan Dangayev at his home in Grozny on 23 October 2002. Saidkhasan worked as a court bailiff and was killed when he confronted the servicemen who had broken into his home at night.

In today's judgments the ECtHR unanimously held that:

  • The right to life of Aslan Akhmadov, Said-Selim Kanayev, Amir Pokayev, Islam Chagayev, Ibragim Magomadov, Ismail Dzhamayev, Magomed Isambayev, Adlan Baysarov, Timur Khadzhayev, Abdul-Naser Zakayev, Ayndi Dzabayev, Magomed Shakhgiriyev, Ali Magomadov, Ismail Umarov, Umalat Abayev and Saidkhasan Dangayev had been violated (violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);

  • The Russian authorities had failed to conduct effective investigations in all cases (violation of Article 2);

  • The applicants's relatives in the first three cases, and in the fifth case with the exception of Aslan Israilov and Khasin Yunusov, had been illegally detained (violation of Article 5);

  • The manner in which the complaints of the applicants in the first three cases were dealt with by Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (violation of Article 3);

  • The applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before Russian authorities for the violations (violation of Article 13);

  • In three cases the Court further held that the refusal of the Russian authorities to submit the documents of the criminal case file constituted a failure to assist the Court in its investigation (violation of Article 38) .

The ECtHR awarded the applicants in all cases a total of 650,950 euro for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

The applicants in Abdulkadyrova and Others were assisted in bringing their applications to the ECtHR by lawyers from the Human Rights Centre «Memorial». The applicants in the other five cases were represented before the ECtHR by Russian Justice Initiative.

On 15 and 22 January 2009 the ECtHR will announce its judgments in three other cases from Chechnya concerning enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution.

For more information:

In Cologne, Germany: Roemer Lemaître, +49 162 8357056
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753

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