Published: 22 Apr 2010

Khatuyeva v Russia

Case Summary

Case No. 12463/05
Judgment date: 22 April 2010

Facts

The applicant’s husband was detained by security forces in the morning of 2 August 2004 in the settlement for internally displaced persons from Chechnya in Ingushetia, where he lived with the applicant and their children. According to the applicant’s submissions, which were supported by witnesses’ statements and uncontested by the Government, her husband was taken to the district department of the interior and from there to the local office of the Federal Security Service (FSB). No formal charges were brought against him and he has not been seen since that day.

The applicant repeatedly applied to various public bodies, complaining of the abduction of her husband. On 20 August 2004, the district prosecutor opened a criminal investigation into the events. The applicant was granted victim status a few days later. Between August 2004 and February 2008, the investigation was suspended and resumed on several occasions. It failed to establish what happened to the applicant’s husband and to charge anyone in connection with his disappearance.

Judgment

Having regard to previous cases before it concerning disappearances in Chechnya and Ingushetia, the Court found that in the context of the situation in the region, the detention of a person by unidentified servicemen without any subsequent acknowledgment of the detention could be regarded as life-threatening. In the absence of the applicant’s husband or of any news about him for several years, and given the failure of the Government to justify his disappearance, the Court found that the applicant’s husband had to be presumed dead following his unacknowledged detention by state servicemen and that his death could be attributed to the State. There was accordingly a violation of Article 2.

The Court held that there was also a violation of Article 2 on account of the authorities failure to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances in which the applicant’s husband had disappeared.

The Court noted that the applicant had suffered distress and anguish as a result of the disappearance of her husband and her inability to find out what had happened to him. In addition, the manner in which her complaints had been dealt with by the authorities were considered to constitute inhuman treatment in violation of Article 3.

The Court found that the applicant’s husband had been held in unacknowledged detention without any of the safeguards contained in Article 5, which constituted a particularly grave violation of the right to liberty and security enshrined in that Article.

The Court finally held that as the criminal investigation into the disappearance of applicant’s husband had been ineffective and the effectiveness of any other remedy that may have existed, including civil remedies as suggested by the Government, had consequently been undermined. The State had failed in its obligation under Article 13 of the Convention, and there was a violation in conjunction with Article 2.

The Court awarded EUR 60,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages.