Today, on 20 February 2020, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights in the interests of Ibragim Yangulbaev from Chechnya who complained of tortures at the Department of the Interior of Grozny related to his posts and comments in the Internet.
As we have previously reported, in June 2017, judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic in retirement Saydi Yangulbaev applied to human rights defenders with the Committee Against Torture. Saydi informed that his son Ibragim was beaten up on 22 May 2017 at the Department of the Interior of Grozny. According to Saydi and Ibragim, on that day a high-ranking Grozny police officer came to their house and told Ibragim’s father that it is necessary to check the telephone and the computer of his son. The police officer pointed out that after the check Ibragim will be immediately released. Together with their mother Zarema, Ibragim got into the black Toyota Camri and they went to the Department of the Interior of Grozny.
There, according to Ibragim, Zarem was requested to stay near the duty station on the first floor, and Ibragim was taken to the fourth floor and brought inside the room followed by a high-ranking police officer and two investigative officers.
According to Yangulbaev, the police officers demanded that he told them the contacts of “Wolves Creed” group in Vkontakte social media, beating him up and torturing him with electricity: “When I answered that I did not know, they beat my body with a plastic tube. In addition, in this room I was subjected to electricity torture and I was hanged with my arms and feet on a metal bar. During this process I passed out several times”.
After that Ibragim was taken to a special room for detained of the Department of the Interior of Grozny. Three days later, on 25 May, Ibragim was taken to the Zavodksy District Court, which imposed a fifteen days’ administrative arrest on him due to the fact that he, allegedly, went to one of the local colleges and used obscene language addressing the teachers (part 1 of Article 20.1 of the Code of Administrative Violations of the Russian Federation “disorderly conduct”).
Before escorting Ibragim to the special detention room of the Department of the Interior for the Chechen Republic, the security guard took him home so that he changed the blood stained clothes for clean ones. At home, the family members saw that their son’s body is covered with bruises. Ibragim told his parents that he was tortured due to comments, posts and likes in Vkontakte social media, where illegal methods of the Chechen law-enforcement bodies were described. He also informed that criminal proceeding is initiated against him under Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, allegedly, for incitement to hatred of Russians on the Internet.
On 25 May, at the special detention room of the Department of the Interior for the Chechen Republic, bodily injuries in the form of numerous bruises on the body, hematomas on arms, feet and back, contusions of the head’s soft tissues were registered on Yangulbaev.
According to Yangulbaev, after he served the administrative arrest, on 8 June, he was once again detained by the police officers, and was kept at the Department of the Interior of Grozny, without any formalization, till 23 June.
After that, Ibragim was put to the Temporary Detention Facility of the Police Department No.1 for the Leninsky District of Grozny.
On 5 July, while he was at the Investigative Detention Facility of Grozny, Ibragim submitted a crime report to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Chechen Republic. From there it was forwarded to the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chechen Republic. For the time of pre-investigative check, the investigators issued three refusals to initiate criminal proceedings, two of which were subsequently quashed as illegal.
In the framework of checking Yangulbaev’s torture complaint, the investigators, among other things, questioned Deputy Head of the Department of the Interior of Grozny Magomed Dashaev, Head of this Department Abushaikh Vismuradov, Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Chechen Republic Apti Alaudinov. All of them denied their involvement in Ibragim Yangulbaev’s receiving bodily injuries.
After one and a half years of keeping Ibragim Yangulbaev in custody at the Investigative Detention Facility, the case against him was stopped due to partial decriminalization of Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, under which he was charged. On 9 January 2019, he was released from the Investigative Detention Facility.
On 16 October 2017, investigator for major cases of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Chechen Republic Magomed Muradov issued a third refusal to initiate criminal proceedings. After the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture failed to quash this ruling at the Prosecutor’s Office, they appealed against it in court.
On 23 April 2019, judge of the Staropromyslovsky District Court of Grozny Arbi Tepsurkaev dismissed the complaint of human rights defenders, declaring the latest refusal of the investigator to be legal. Human rights defenders appealed against this court ruling, but the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic dismissed the proceedings of the application, bringing forward an absurd argument that appealing against the refusal to open a torture case should be performed within the framework of the criminal case initiated against Yangulbaev himself.
Due to failure to achieve an effective investigation of Ibragim Yangulbaev’s torture complaint at the national level, today, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights.
Human rights defenders think that with regard to Ibragim Yangulbaev the following violations were committed: Article 3 of the European Convention of human rights protection, guaranteeing torture prohibition and the right to effective investigation, Article 13, guaranteeing the effective legal remedies and Article 5 with regard to unregistered apprehension of the applicant in May 2017 and subsequent illegal imprisonment.
“Once again, the Chechen investigators demonstrated their helplessness against local Department of the Interior, – lawyer with the North Caucasus branch of the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov comments. – The investigators failed to explain Ibragim Yangulbaev’s bodily injuries, neither did they provide a proper evaluation of his testimony. The Russian court system ignored these significant violations. All this forced us to resort to applying to the European Court of Human Rights”.