Ten cases of disappearances in Chechnya communicated to the Russian Government

22 September 2015

On 22 September 2015, the European Court of Human Rights communicated a group of cases relating to the alleged abduction of ten men by State agents in the Chechen Republic between 2000 and 2004 to the Russian Government. The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), based at Middlesex University, and Memorial Human Rights Centre are representing the applicants in one of these cases, Sultan Magomedov and others v Russia, which is brought by seven family members of Usman Magomadov.

Mr Magomadov was a resident of Mesker-Yurt, a village in Chechnya. On 28 March 2002, he was on his way to work in the neighbouring town of Argun, when he was stopped by a group of four armed military servicemen. He was pulled from his car and forced into an armoured personnel carrier, which then drove off towards Argun. His wife witnessed the abduction along with her relative and followed the military vehicle towards Khankala, the main base of the Russian military in Chechnya. She was informed several days later that Mr Magomadov was being detained in the Grozny department of the Federal Security Service. His whereabouts remain unknown.

In their application to the European Court, Mr Magomadov’s family – his three brothers, wife and three children – allege that his abduction is a violation of the right to life, under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and that the circumstances indicate that the perpetrators had been State agents. Under the procedural limb of Art. 2, they further argue that no effective investigation took place. They also allege a violation of the right to liberty (Art. 5 ECHR) with regards to the unacknowledged detention of Mr Magomadov. His family argue that they have suffered severe mental distress as a result of the authorities’ indifference to Mr Magomadov’s abduction and disappearance, and the State’s failure to conduct an effective investigation, in violation of Art.3 ECHR. Finally, they argue a lack of an effective remedy under Art. 13 ECHR in respect of their complaints under Arts. 2, 3 and 5.

A further nine applications regarding disappearances of men in Chechnya, all alleging similar violations to those outlined above, have been joined to Sultan Magomedov and others v Russia.