Bitiyeva and X v. Russia

Key Judgment

Legal Relevance

Keywords: Evidence | Relatives as Victims | State/Non-State Agents | Reparations | Interim/Urgent Measures | Burden of Proof | Women and Girls | Deprivation of Liberty

Themes: Related Crimes | Characteristics of the Crime | Persons and Groups Affected | Prevention

The Court found the victim's detention to be arbitrary and in total disregard of the requirement of lawfulness. It stressed the violation of the domestic procedural requirements relating to the detention of criminal suspects in light of the fact that no charges were brought against the victim, no decision to detain or to release her was given by a competent authority, and her detention was not formally linked to any criminal investigation, nor did she benefit from the procedural safeguards applicable to persons deprived of their liberty. The Court also highlighted how the violation of the victim's detention rights derived from the fact that she was deprived of her liberty in a place over which no State institution was exercising authority, finding that such situation fosters impunity for abuses and is incompatible with the responsibility of the authorities to account for individuals under their control. In line with its previous case law, the Court did not make a finding of inhuman treatment in relation to the victim's relatives, arguing that such finding does not extend to the relatives of persons who have been killed by the authorities, but only to the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearances.

Judgment Date

January 30, 2008



Judicial Body

European Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 3 [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR], Article 38 [ECHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 3 [ECHR], Article 34 [ECHR]

Facts of the Case

Mrs. Zura Bitiyeva, an active anti-war political figure, was apprehended along with her son in her house in Chechnya in January 2000 by about 20 men wearing masks and military uniforms, who claimed to be carrying out a passport check and threatened her to go with them to the local police department. Ms. Bitiyeva and her son were brought to a detention facility, where they were separated. As confirmed by witnesses, during her detention the victim was subjected to humiliating treatment, and she was beaten and often threatened. The legal status of the detention facility was unclear until February 2000, when responsibility for the institution was transferred to the Ministry of Justice of Chechnya. She was released in March 2000, when she received a certificate by the Department of the Interior which stated that from 25 January to 26 February 2000 the criminal police verified her participation and involvement with illegal armed groups in Chechnya, but no incriminating material was found. Ms. Bitiyeva's son was released several days after his mother. Neither of the two have been charged with committing a crime in relation to their detention. Ms. Bitiyeva was killed in May 2003 in her house, along with her son, husband and brother, by a group of Russian-speaking camouflaged persons driving cars without registration plates, who stormed the house with guns. Ms. Bitiyeva's relatives claim to have been threatened and harassed by the military and law-enforcement bodies after the killing of their family members. In June 2004 the European Court of Human Rights requested the State to take all measures to ensure that there is no hindrance of the effective exercise of the applicant's right to individual petition.

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