The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for failing to conduct an effective investigation into the deaths of two teenage boys, who were killed by a stray missile in 2000, and for the disappearance of a Chechen man in 2004, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.
The applicants in Udayeva and Yusupova v. Russia are the mothers of Ali Udayev and Ramzan Yusupov who on 17 October 2000 were walking home from school near the town of Urus-Martan, Chechnya, when they were killed by an explosion caused by an artillery projectile. Witnesses reported hearing a projectile being fired from the direction of Michurino, where Russian troops were stationed, and hearing the subsequent explosion near the cemetery. The Government did not deny the fact of the boys’ death but argued that the missile had been fired by an illegal armed group, which had on that day been shelling the troops stationed in Michurino. Despite the almost complete lack of information or evidence submitted by the Government, the Court found there was not enough evidence to attribute the boys’ death to the Russian military.
The investigation into the death of Ali and Ramzan yielded no results. The Court found the investigation severely inadequate from the start, as investigators failed to collect any evidence from the crime scene (fragments of the weapon were collected and submitted to the authorities by the applicants) and subsequently the investigation failed to corroborate witness accounts or to question any servicemen stationed in Michurino, nor did they attempt to verify the possibility that the deaths had been caused by “incorrect use” of artillery by the Government.
The applicants in Dzhamayeva and Others v. Russia are the mother, wife and children of Khamid Mukayev, who was abducted by Russian servicemen from his family home in Katyr-Yurt, Chechnya, during an unacknowledged security operation in September 2004. The investigation into Khamid’s disappearance produced no results.
In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:
- The right to life was violated in respect of Khamid Mukayev, who must be presumed dead, into which no effective investigation was conducted (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
- The Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the deaths of Ali Udayev and Ramzan Yusupov (Article 2);
- The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities in Dzhamayeva and others constituted inhuman treatment [Article 3];
- Khamid Mukayev was unlawfully deprived of his liberty (Article 5);
- The applicants in Dzhamayeva and others 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 126,000 euro in respect of material and moral damages. The applicants in Udayeva and Yusupova were assisted by the Russian Justice Initiative in bringing their case to the ECtHR. Dokka Itslaev, a lawyer practicing in Chechnya, represented the applicants in Dzhamayeva and Others.
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