On 9 January 2014 the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Pitsayeva and Others v. Russia, in which the Court had joined complaints lodged by ninety applicants. Thirty six relatives of theirs were in 2000 – 2006 abducted in different districts of the Chechen Republic. The ECHR found that there had been numerous violations of the European Convention, and awarded the victims EUR 1 928 000 in compensation.
Kheda Yagayeva is one of the applicants. Her husband was abducted by unidentified armed men in 2006, and she applied to the Committee Against Torture seeking legal assistance. The circumstances in her case are quite common and typical of that time: The civilian family was home when a group of armed men in camouflage broke into the house assertedly in order to checked the identity documents. Without giving any explanations or legal grounds the men arrested Kheda’s husband, Zayndi Ayubov. The woman has never heard about his whereabouts since then. Zayndi’s relatives immediately filed a crime report and their complains with the competent authorities. Unfortunately, as well as in many other similar situations, the authorities took no adequate steps.
Having failed to obtain restoration of rights on the national level, lawyers of the Committee Against Torture lodged the relevant application with the European Court of Human Rights.
In the Judgment the Court was unanimous that:
– The Russian Federation is responsible for the violation of Zayndi Ayubov’s right to life (Article 2 of the Convention).
– The investigation into the abduction was ineffective in violation of the State’s obligation under Article 2 of the Convention.
– The distress and anguish which Kheda Yagaeva suffered, and continues to suffer, as a result of her inability to ascertain the fate of her family member and of the manner in which her complaints have been dealt with, amount to inhuman treatment in the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.
– Mr Ayubov was detained unlawfully, which is a violation of Article 5 of the Convention.
– The Russian Federation has also violated Article 13 of the Convention, because the applicant and her husband did not have any effective remedies at their disposal.
For these reasons the ECHR awarded Kheda Yagaeva EUR 45 000 compensation.
The Court has come to similar conclusions concerning other applicants’ complaints.
The INGO «Committee Against Torture» expert in international law Anton Ryzhov believes, that this is how the Court is trying to find working methods to influence Russian authorities for them to start investigating abductions and murders in the Chechen Republic, and to hold those responsible accountable. Nevertheless, the lawyer doesn’t think it changes the situation consistently.
«The number of victims and the amounts of compensations are increasing really fast. In this very judgment there are 90 applicants and 36 victims, abducted people. The Court has awarded about 87 million rubles compensation. The money is to be payed from Russian treasury. However, it is now evident that it’s easier for our authorities to pay, than to investigate grave crimes that are frequently committed in this region», says Anton Ryzhov.