Published: 4 Dec 2008

Umayeva v Russia

Case Summary

Case No. 1200/03
Judgment date: 4 December 2008

Facts

On 23 January 2000, the applicant suffered shell and bullet wounds as she was attempting to leave Grozny through a humanitarian corridor. The shelling continued for the next few days, and the applicant’s relatives were unable to take her to hospital until 30 January. From that point she remained in various hospitals till August 2000, and continued to receive treatment for the injuries sustained in the attack on several subsequent occasions. As a result of her injuries she was left partially disabled. On 4 March 2002, the applicant requested opening of a criminal case. An investigation was opened on the grounds of “unintentional infliction of bodily harm of medium gravity”. On 27 July 2002 a report was produced by an expert who stated that the arms and legs of the applicant bore signs of gunshot wounds. The criminal investigation was adjourned on 26 August 2002 because of the failure to identify the culprits.

Judgment

The Court took note that the domestic investigation had accepted the applicant’s submissions and even concluded in August 2002 that she had been wounded while trying to leave Grozny through the humanitarian corridor. It was therefore determined that the applicant had been attacked in the circumstances she had described and had been wounded as a result of the use of lethal force by State agents. Since there was no justification for using the lethal force the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 2.

In spite of the fact that some degree of investigation had been carried out in this case, the Court held nonetheless that there was a breach of the procedural limb of Article 2 on account of inexplicable shortcomings, considerable periods of inactivity, and the lack of any tangible results.

Lastly, the Court found a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 in that the criminal investigation into the circumstances of a potentially lethal attack was ineffective in that it lacked sufficient objectivity and thoroughness, and no other effective remedy was available to the applicant.

The applicant was awarded EUR 30,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages.