Kadirova and Others v. Russia
Evidence | Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | State/Non-State Agents | Women and Girls | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Burden of Proof | Deprivation of Liberty
Confirming that when factual elements lie within the exclusive knowledge of the authorities the burden of proof is shifted to the State to provide explanations, the Court was satisfied that the victims were arrested by servicemen during a security operation. It also added that, in the context of the conflict in the Chechen Republic, unacknowledged detention by unidentified servicemen can be regarded as life-threatening, concluding that the victims must be presumed dead following their detention by servicemen, and that liability for their presumed deaths was attributable to the State. The Court also made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victims' relatives, and found that the victims were held in unacknowledged detention in breach of their right to liberty and security.
September 24, 2012
Article 2 (substantive) [ECHR], Article 2 (procedural) [ECHR], Article 3 [ECHR], Article 5 [ECHR], Article 13 [ECHR]
Facts of the Case
Ms. Aset Yakhyayeva and Ms. Milana Betilgiriyeva disappeared in November 2001, when five armed uniformed men (allegedly, military police, Federal Security Service and Intelligence officers) who broke into their house alleging they were “looking for the men”. The armed men threatened the women present and told them that the following day they would take them to the military commander’s office and “decide what to do with them”. The next morning, Ms. Yakhyayeva and Ms. Betilgiriyeva were disappeared and their families had no information about them since then. Some witnesses stated that on the relevant date military servicemen had taken away the two women. Relatives of the disappeared complained to a military commander about the abduction; he promised them that the passports of the women would be checked and that “should there be no problems they would be released”. After a check, he instructed them to come pick up the missing women at the Office of the Interior. However, police officers told them that they had no information on their whereabouts. An investigation into the abduction was instituted, and then suspended and reopened a number of times between 2001 and 2006. Relatives of Ms. Yakhyayeva and Ms. Betilgiriyeva also asked servicemen operating a roadblock whether they had any information on the abducted women. One of the servicemen allegedly told them that he had heard about the arrest of two women via the army’s internal communication channels; on the next day, he was removed from the roadblock. According to witnesses, Ms. Yakhyayeva and Ms. Betilgiriyeva had been held in military premises, where they were tortured with a view to making them confess to having participated in illegal armed groups. In July 2010, investigators ordered the taking of a DNA sample from a relative of Ms. Yakhyayeva with a view to verifying her presence in the unidentified bodies’ database.