An unparalleled situation in Mariy El: the Russian Federation acknowledges the fact of ECHR violation before the European Court has adjudicated on the application


12 October 2010

Today the Committee Against Torture has received a copy of the Memorandum under Rzhavin v. Russia (page.1page 2page 3) prepared by Russia’s Representative at the European Court of Human Rights. You may remember that the applicant is an elderly Mariy El resident who was seriously abused by the local police in December 2001.    

   Having received the document, the Committee was agreeably surprised by the fact that Russia acknowledged breaches of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention and proposed a friendly settlement to the applicant. This procedure means that before the Court adjudicates on the case, but after it strikes the application admissible under articles 38 and 39 of the Convention, it suggests that both parties should go for a friendly settlement the actual possibility of which depends mostly on the state’s willingness to admit the violation.  If the respondent state finds the allegations well-founded and proved, it may volunteer to pay the victim a fair compensation of the damage inflicted and provide for the redress of the victim’s rights in the framework of the friendly settlement procedure. It should be noted that if the friendly settlement is accepted by both parties, the applicant loses the right to apply to the ECtHR on the same grounds.

   This is the first such case in CAT’s practice, and we find it even more important than an ECtHR judgment, since acknowledgement of a violation on the national level, in the first place, means that the Government is willing to discuss the ways to redress the situation and, second, this incident will have more effect on domestic case law that just another ECtHR judgment.  We must mention that the European Court also attaches a lot of importance to the instrument of friendly settlement because the state’s will to solve the issue on its own initiative always brings more results.  

    The CAT’s position in this respect is as follows: we, on behalf of the applicant and subject to his approval, intend to accept the friendly settlement proposal, but we believe that a mere payment of compensation would not be a sufficient provision to go for it. Now the Committee is preparing its considerations which will be submitted to the Court till November 1 and published on our web-page.

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