Today the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has delivered a judgment in the case of Apti Zaynalov from Chechen Republic, who was abducted in 2009. The court came to the conclusion that the abductors were the state representatives, established six violations of the European Convention and awarded sixty thousand euro to the victim’s mother.
(Photo: Apti Zaynalov)
On 4 December 2009 Ayma Makayeva applied to the Joint Mobile Group of Russian human rights defenders working in Chechnya (JMG) for legal assistance. According to Ayma her son Apti Zaynalov was detained in Grozny city by law-enforcement officers and taken to an undisclosed location.
In connection with that Ayma applied to law-enforcement bodies of Chechen Republic with a statement about her son’s disappearance. Nevertheless no activities for Zaynalov’s search were performed. Only 9 days later Zaynalov was accidentally found by the head of «Memorial» regional representative office Natalia Estemirova in Achkhoy-Martan central district hospital. Zaynalov was receiving medical treatment there under protection of armed men in police uniform in connection with a gunshot wound that he received during his arrest.
As it became known in the course of a civil investigation performed by human rights defenders a few days before that, the acting Achkhoy-Martan inter-district prosecutor Mr. Potanin tried to enter the premises of this hospital, however the armed men in police uniform refused to answer the prosecutor’s questions. Moreover, they threatened to murder him if he tries to communicate with a patient located in the hospital.
Despite the submitted on 7 July 2009 official application of Zaynalov’s mother and Natalia Estemirova to the Prosecutor’s office and Department of Interior for Achkhoy-Martan district concerning Apti’s stay in hospital no actions were taken either – and as a result on the same day Zaynalov was taken away from the territory of the hospital by some armed men. Nothing has been known about the abducted man’s fate ever since.
The human rights defenders of the Joint Mobile Group admitted to the criminal proceeding as the victim’s representatives have to acknowledge that as a result of numerous violations the case of Zaynalov’s abduction was not actually investigated for a few years, and possibility of effective investigation of this case was virtually lost. Due to this fact the lawyers of Memorial Human Rights Advocacy Centre and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (London) lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Ayma Makayeva.
In today’s verdict Strasbourg judges have unanimously stated that:
– Apti Zaynalov was abducted by the representatives of state. Based on the fact that nothing is known about his fate for several years, the authorities violated his right of life;
– appropriate authorities did not perform relevant investigation based on Zaynalov’s mother claim on her son’s abduction;
– her suffering due to absence of progress in her son’s search activity amounted to degrading treatment from the part of the authorities;
– Apti Zaynalov was deprived of liberty in violation of guarantees provided by Article 5 of the Convention;
– Ayma Makayeva was deprived of any effective legal remedies of protection in this case.
On this basis the ECHR have awarded the victim’s mother a compensation in the amount of sixty thousand euro.
As we have previously reported, the case of Zaynalov is mentioned in the report on the status of investigation of criminal cases , initiated based on the facts of torture and enforced disappearances in the Chechen Republic, developed by lawyers with the Interregional NGO «Committee Against Torture». This report was handed over to the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.