ECtHR Rules Against Russia On Chechnya Abductions

The European Court of Human Rights, on February 11th, issued two non-final Chamber judgments concerning disappearances in Chechnya. In the two cases, Guluyeva and Others v. Russia and Dubayev and Bersnukayeva v. Russia, the applicants alleged that Russian servicemen had abducted their relatives and that domestic authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into their allegations. The Court found Russia in violation of Articles 2, 3, 5, and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concern the rights to life, the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security, and the right to an effective remedy, respectively. The cases come in the wake of a January 2010 reversal of Russia’s longstanding opposition to reforms meant to expedite the adjudication of cases before the Court.

In Guluyeva, Russia’s investigation into the abduction of Ramzan Guluyev, taken from his home in Chechnya on the night of Jule 12-13 2002, was suspended numerous times for Russia’s failure to identify the perpetrators. The Court awarded Mr. Guluyev’s mother 10,800 euros, and 65,000 euros to Mr. Guluyev’s mother and two sisters jointly, plus expenses. Mr. Guluyev remains missing.

Dubayev was brought by the father of Islam Dubayev and the mother of Roman Bersnukayev. Their respective sons disappeared after submitting to a Russian Amnesty Act exculpating them from criminal liability based on their involvement in an illegal anti-Russian group. The Russian government maintains that the two men have been released. The families filed missing person reports, but the government has denied them access to case-files, despite numerous suspensions of the investigations, because it claims that revealing case-files while the investigation is in progress would violate Russian rules of criminal procedure. The Court awarded 60,000 euros to each of the applicants, plus expenses.

The applicants in Guluyeva were represented by the International Protection Centre, and in Dubayev by the NGO EHRAC/Memorial Human Rights Centre.

The judgments will become final pending the procedural protocol of the Court.

For further information, see here. For the Court’s opinion in Guluyeva and Others v. Russia, see here. For the opinion in Dubayev and Bersnukayeva v. Russia, see here.