The European Court consolidates 13 complaints about torture in North Caucasus


14 June 2019

The European Court of Human Rights communicated thirteen complaints from the North Caucasus Federal District about tortures in law-enforcement agencies. Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture represent the applicants for three of these complaints. The Strasbourg judges posed questions to the Russian authorities on whether the applicants were subjected to torture and whether their applications were effectively investigated at the federal level.

In the text of the communication the European Court pointed out that in the period from 2009 to 2018 the applicants who are based in various North Caucasus areas, were convicted for involvement in illegal armed groups, preparations for attempts on life of the police officers, illegal storage and manufacturing of fire arms and explosive substances, instigation to terrorist acts. All the applicants, mentioned by the court, claim that the officers of various law-enforcement officers subjected them to inhumane and degrading treatment and tortures using electricity, threats of sexual violence aimed at obtaining confessions.

Out of thirteen complaints which were consolidated in one proceedings by the European Court, three were submitted by the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, representing the interests of applicants from the Chechen Republic. These are the cases of Zubair Idrisov, Makhmud Madayev and cousins Khavazh Magomadov and Bislan Magomadov.

As we have previously reported, Zubair Idrisov was apprehended in September 2009 on suspicion of an attempt on life of Magomed Daudov, who at that time was head of the Department of the Interior for the Shalinsky District. According to medical documentation, when Idrisov was taken to Temporary Detention Facility on 5 September 2009, he was diagnosed with craniocerebral injury, hematomas on the face and a bruise on the right foot developed as a result of solid blunt object impact. As Zubair was telling human rights defenders, he was brutally beaten at the Department of the Interior for the Shalinsky District, electricity torture and hang-up was applied against him aiming at obtaining confession of having committed a number of crimes. Subsequently Idrisov was convicted to 9 years of imprisonment in the standard security penal colony for banditism, illegal acquisition, storage and carrying fire arms and attempt on life of a law-enforcement officer. The investigative authorities, in their turn, five times dismissed the request for opening a criminal case based on Idrisov’s torture complaint.

Cousins Khavazh Magomadov and Bislan Magomadov told the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture that they were arrested by the police officers in September 2019 near Berkat market in Grozny. During the apprehension, according to Khavazh, he attempted to flee but the police officers shot at him several times and shot his left foot. According to the cousins, they were taken to the abandoned house in the Staropromyslovsky District of Grozny, where during several days they were interrogated by the police officers with regard to a series of attacks against law-enforcement officers in the Staropromyslovsky District in 2009 и and 2010, subjecting them to tortures: applying electricity, putting a plastic bag on the head to block the oxygen access and poured boiling water on their feet. According to the results of forensic medical examinations, Khavazh was registered with a fire wound in the left thigh, burning wounds on the feet, left leg and bruised on the legs, and Bislan – with burning wounds on both feet, incurred with boiling water, amputated a toe of the right foot, deformation of the left hand thumb. Bislan claims that his toe was amputated as a consequence of the necrosis of tissue developed after electricity torture. Later on, the Investigative Committee issued fourteen refusals to initiate criminal proceedings based on the cousins’ complaint, and the cousins were convicted to 25 years of jail time each on a charge of involvement in a series of attacks against the law-enforcement officers.

Makhmud Madayev was apprehended after 17 April 2012, when a spontaneous detonation of an explosive device buried in the ground happened in Assinovskaya settlement of the Sunzhensky District of the Chechen Republic. In his explanation to the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture, Mr Madayev indicated that after he refused to confess of his involvement in the explosion, the police officers applied refined tortures to him, including battery with arms, feet and various objects, they were strangling him with a fixture made with the help of a plastic bag, broke his toes, threatened with a reprisal aimed at his family, after which Makhmud agreed to sign a confession. A month after Madayev’s apprehension, the medical examination was conducted, in the course of which numerous scars of the upper third of the right shoulder and the back were registered, which may have developed during the circumstances that he described. Forensic experts did not register any breaking toes. A year after the apprehension, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic declared Madayev to be guilty of involvement in illegal armed group and in preparation for attempt on life of a law-enforcement officer and illegal carrying and storage of explosive substances, sentenced them to 8 years and 6 months of jail time to be served in a maximum security penal colony. The Investigative Committee had a time to issue only one refusal to initiate criminal proceedings before the court in its verdict actually confirmed the fact of absence of any violence with regard to Madayev.  

“In our opinion, consolidating the torture complaints from the Chechen Republic with the complaints from Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkariya and the Stavropol Territory is a positive aspect in fighting torture in the North Caucasus, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Dmitry Piskounov comments. Resolution concerning these application may become the most indicative cases in future and maybe, it will force the Russian authorities to start fighting torture effectively in the region on a system-based level”.

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