European Court on Chechen disappearance

European Court to rule on Chechen disappearance filmed by Russian soldiers

 

(Moscow, Monday, April 2, 2007) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will on 5 April 2007 rule on a disappearance case from Chechnya, Russian Justice Initiative, a legal aid organization representing the wife of the disappeared, said today. The main evidence in the case is unique videofootage of the detention made by Russian soldiers.

On 2 March 2000, two Russian special police force units (OMON) started firing at each other in the village of Podgornoye in Chechnya, Russia. As a result of the fighting more than 20 servicemen were killed. After the fighting the OMON units launched a mop-up operation in the village during which more than 50 people were detained. Among those detained was Asmart Baysayeva’s 61-year-old husband, Shakhid Baysayev. Shakhid has now been missing for more than seven years.

In August 2000, a Russian soldier approached Asmart and sold her a videotape of her husband’s detention. The video shows Asmart’s husband lying on the ground surrounded by Russian soldiers. One of the soldiers kicks him and orders him to stand up. The soldiers address him with threatening remarks, using obscene language. He is then escorted by the soldiers towards partially destroyed buildings, where more soldiers are gathering, before he disappears from the screen.

The Russian soldier also provided Asmart with a map of her husband’s alleged burial place, which Asmart immediately handed over to the prosecutor’s office. An investigator from the prosecutor’s office gained access to the burial place, which was located in a miliary compound, only 16 months later. After having found pieces of human bone and several pieces of clothing, similar to the coat that Shakhid was wearing the day he was detained, Asmart and the investigator agreed with the military to come back the next day to conduct a full excavation. On their way home that same night, the invesigator were killed when his car was blown up. The alleged burial place has never been properly excavated.

After the death of the investigator, Asmart was summoned to the prosecutor’s office and accused of being involved with the explosion. Employees of the prosecutor’s office also instructed her to stop searching for her husband, threatening her own and her childrens’ security.

Asmart Baysayeva, assisted by Russian Justice Initiative, lodged an application with the ECHR on 20 September 2001. In the application, Asmart argues that the Russian authorities violated:

  • her husband’s right to life (Article 2 of the European Convention for Human Rights);

  • the right not to be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment (Article 3) both in respect of herself and her husband;

  • her husband’s right to liberty (Article 5);

  • and the right to an effective remedy, including a adequate investigation (Article 13).

The ECHR has previously held the Russian authorities responsible for disappearances in Chechnya in the cases Bazorkina v. Russia and Imakayeva v. Russia.

For more information:
In Moscow, Russia: Ole Solvang,  +7 905 527 5978 
In Nazran, Russia: Arsen Sakalov, +7 906 486 0753.

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