Case No. 38570/05
Judgment date: 8 April 2010
The applicant’s son disappeared on 9 December 2002, when he was stopped for an identity check by Russian servicemen at a mobile military checkpoint, on his way to his family home. Two acquaintances, travelling in a bus and also stopped at the checkpoint, witnessed the applicant’s son being taken. He has not been seen since. Immediately following the event the applicant applied in person and in writing to various public bodies to find out about her son’s fate. An investigation into the applicant’s son’s disappearance was launched on 31 January 2003. The investigation was suspended and reopened several times in the coming years, and failed to establish the whereabouts of the applicant’s son or the identity of the perpetrators of his kidnapping.
The Court noted that there had been no reliable news of the applicant’s son since the date of his abduction. His name has not been found in any official detention facility records, and the Government had not submitted any explanation as to what had happened to him after his arrest. It found that in the context of the conflict in Chechnya, when a person was detained by unidentified servicemen without any subsequent acknowledgment of the detention, was life-threatening, and the absence of applicant’s son and of any news of him for more than seven years supported that assumption. The Court held that the applicant’s son must be presumed dead following his unacknowledged detention by State servicemen, and found a violation of Article 2.
The Court also held that the authorities failed to carry out an effective criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of applicant’s son, in breach of the procedural aspect of Article 2.
In relation to the applicant’s sufferings as a result of her son’s disappearance, the Court held that it reached the threshold of Article 3 and constituted inhuman treatment.
Given that the applicant’s son had been held in unacknowledged detention without any of the safeguards contained in Article 5, this had constituted a particularly grave violation of the right to liberty and security guaranteed by this provision.
Lastly, the Court found a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2, on account of the impossibility for the applicant to obtain the identification and punishment of those responsible.
The Court awarded the applicant EUR 60,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages.