Bitiyeva and Others v. Russia
Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | State/Non-State Agents | Reparations
The Court reiterated the principle that when abductions take place in an area under control of the State, those carrying out the abductions can be presumed to be State agents. In line with its previous case law, the Court did not make a finding of inhuman treatment in relation to the victim's relatives, holding that a family member of a “disappeared person” can claim to be a victim of inhuman treatment in cases where the person taken into custody has later been found dead only if this is justified by a period of long detention. In light of the fact that the Government produced no formal acknowledgement of or justification for the detention of the applicants' relatives, the Court found a particularly grave violation of the victims' right to liberty and security.
November 6, 2009
Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR]
Articles not violated / not dealt with
Article 3 [ECHR], Article 6 [ECHR], Article 8 [ECHR]
Facts of the Case
The eight victims were abducted from their houses on 29 March 2004 by a number of armed men wearing masks and uniforms, who beat them and their families, seized their documents and brought them away in armoured vehicles. The victim's families complained to a number of law-enforcement agencies about the abduction of their relatives, receiving no information about their fate. They also had unofficial conversations with the authorities, who reportedly told them that the abducted men would be released by 9 April 2004, providing no documentary evidence to confirm such information. The applicants also received via unofficial channels an unsigned and undated document representing an extract from a register of crimes, according to which a district office had been informed about the abduction, had carried out an inquiry and established where their relatives had been detained. On 9 April 2004 the dead bodies of the victims, presenting multiple injuries, were found. The applicants filed written complaints with civilian and military authorities, and were informed that investigations were underway. In June 2004, they were notified that investigations had been suspended, and that the military prosecutor office had ruled that no abduction took place on the relevant date and place.