Case No. 26966/06
Judgment date: 10 June 2010
The applicant argued that her two sons were abducted by Russian security forces. In the early hours of 12 November 2002 a group of armed men in camouflage uniforms broke into the family home and took them away in armoured personnel carriers. She had no news of them since. The applicant submitted extensive witness statements confirming the abductions. On 29 January 2003 the district prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the abduction of the applicant’s sons, however, it produced no substantial results.
The Court considered that the applicant had presented a clear, coherent and consistent account of her sons’ abduction. The circumstances of the abduction were corroborated by an important number of concordant witness statements provided by both the applicant and the Government. The Court also took note of the general situation in Chechnya at the time and considered that the applicants’ sons had to be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by Russian servicemen. It further drew inferences from the Russian Government’s failure to submit documents – despite specific requests from the Court. Accordingly, it found that there was a violation of Article 2 in respect of applicant’s sons.
The Court also held that there had been a further violation of Article 2 on account of the authorities failure to carry out an effective criminal investigation into the circumstances in which the applicant’s sons had disappeared.
In relation to the applicant’s suffering under Article 3, the Court found that she had suffered distress and anguish as a result of her sons’ disappearance and her inability to find out what had happened to them, constituting inhuman treatment in violation of Article 3.
The Court also found that the applicant’s sons had been held in unacknowledged detention without any of the safeguards contained in Article 5, in violation of that provision.
Finally, the Court held that as the criminal investigations into the disappearance and death of the applicant’s sons had been ineffective, and the effectiveness of any other remedy that might have existed had consequently been undermined. The State had failed in its obligation under Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2.
The applicant was awarded EUR 120,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages.