Today the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has passed a significant Judgment in the case of abduction of the Chechen Republic citizen Abdul-Yazit Askhabov in 2009. The Court has arrived at the conclusion that the crime was committed by State agents, found five violations of the European Convention, and held that relatives of the abducted must be payed sixty thousand euros.
On 12 November 2009 Abdul’s parents, the Askhabovs, applied to the Joint Mobile Group of Russian human rights defenders working in Chechnya (JMG). They claimed that at night of 4-5 August 2009 three armed men in masks and military camouflage uniforms arrived at the applicant’s home and abducted their son Abdul-Yazit, and since then the parents had heard neither from nor about him.
On 19 August 2009 criminal proceedings based on the fact of his abduction were initiated, though due to numerous violations the investigation was not in fact being conducted for 3 years, and according to the information we possess was once again suspended.
In today’s Judgment the Court was unanimous that:
– Abdul‑ Yazit had been abducted by State servicemen and, considering that for several years there has not been any news of him or his fate, he must be presumed dead, and his death can be attributed to the State, which means there has been a violation of his right to life;
– he authorities failed to carry out an effective criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Abdul-Yazit Askhabov following his close relatives’ application;
– Askhabov’s mother, as a result of her son’s disappearance and the State’s failure to investigate it properly, had endured mental sufferings amounting to inhuman or degrading treatment;
– Abdul-Yazit had been detained in violation of the guarantees contained in Article 5 of the Convention;
– The relatives had been deprived of effective remedies in respect of the aforementioned violations.
For these reasons, the Court held that Russia is to pay to the relatives of the abducted sixty thousand euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage to them. We should mention that the family’s interests were represented in the ECHR by lawyers of the Human Rights Center “Memorial” and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (London).
A lawyer of the Interregional Committee Against Torture, a member of the JMG Anton Ryzhov comments on the news: “This ECHR Judgment is very significant. As far as I know, this is the first time the Court has established a fact of abduction by law enforcement agents committed not in the beginning of the 2000s, but in 2009, in “Kadyrov’s” Chechnya, where such cases are actually never investigated”.
We would remind that the case of Askhabov is included into the report on the efficiency of investigation into criminal cases initiated basing on torture and disappearances of people in the Chechen Republic. This report was prepared by lawyers of the Interregional NGO “Committee Against Torture” and submitted to the Russian Federation Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.