I correctly predicted that there was a violation of human rights in A.A. AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA.

Information

  • Judgment date: 2021-12-14
  • Communication date: 2019-12-02
  • Application number(s): 37008/19
  • Country:   RUS
  • Relevant ECHR article(s): 2, 2-1, 3, 5, 5-1, 13, 34
  • Conclusion:
    Violation of Article 2 - Right to life (Article 2-1 - Effective investigation) (Procedural aspect)
    Violation of Article 2 - Right to life (Article 2-1 - Life) (Substantive aspect)
    Violation of Article 3 - Prohibition of torture (Article 3 - Inhuman treatment) (Substantive aspect)
    Violation of Article 5 - Right to liberty and security (Article 5-1 - Lawful arrest or detention)
    Violation of Article 13+2 - Right to an effective remedy (Article 13 - Effective remedy) (Article 2 - Right to life)
  • Result: Violation
  • SEE FINAL JUDGMENT

JURI Prediction

  • Probability: 0.716413
  • Prediction: Violation
  • Consistent


Legend

 In line with the court's judgment
 In opposition to the court's judgment
Darker color: higher probability
: In line with the court's judgment  
: In opposition to the court's judgment

Communication text used for prediction

The application concerns allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial execution of the applicants’ relatives by law-enforcement agencies perpetrated in the end of 2016 - beginning of 2017 in the Chechen Republic.
After the disappearance of their relatives, the applicants and their family members have allegedly been subjected to intimidation by local authorities in attempts to dissuade them from lodging complaints for criminal investigation into the incidents.
No criminal case was opened into the applicants’ allegations by the domestic authorities, albeit for an inquiry which resulted in refusals to open a criminal case.
On 18 December 2019 the applicants were granted anonymity pursuant to Rule 47 § 4 of the Rules of Court.
COMPLAINTS The applicants complain under Article 2 of the Convention that their relatives were abducted and most probably killed by State agents and that the authorities failed to investigate the matter.
Under Article 3 of the Convention, the applicants complain of the mental suffering caused by their relatives’ disappearance and the authorities’ attitude thereto.
Under Article 5 of the Convention the applicants allege that their relatives were subjected to unlawful detention and under Article 13 of the Convention the applicants complain of the lack of domestic remedies in respect of the authorities’ failure to investigate their relatives’ disappearance.

Judgment

THIRD SECTION
CASE OF A.A. AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Application no.
37008/19)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG
14 December 2021

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of A.A. and Others v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Peeter Roosma, President, Dmitry Dedov, Andreas Zünd, judges,and Olga Chernishova, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to:
the application (no.
37008/19) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by Russian nationals, listed in the appended table (“the applicants”), on 27 June 2019;
the decision to give notice to the Russian Government (“the Government”) of the application;
the decision not to have the names of the applicants disclosed;
the parties’ observations;
Having deliberated in private on 23 November 2021,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
INTRODUCTION
1.
The case concerns the applicants’ relatives’ abduction by State agents perpetrated in Chechnya between December 2016 and January 2017 and the lack of due investigation thereof. THE FACTS
2.
The applicants, all of whom are Russian nationals, are listed in the Appendix. They were represented before the Court by Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, an NGO practising in Moscow. 3. The Government were represented initially by Mr M. Galperin, Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights, and lately by Mr M. Vinogradov, his successor in that office. 4. The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows. 5. On 17 December 2016 in Chechnya, a group of young men killed two police officers. In retaliation, all of the culprits were killed by the authorities. 6. Between 17 December 2016 and 25 January 2017 the authorities carried out special operations as the result of which a number of local residents were arrested at homes and in the streets. These events were reported by the press, for example, by a federal TV channel Russia24 (Россия24) of 11 January 2017 “The gang eliminated in Chechnya had close ties with ISIS” (“Банда, уничтоженная в Чечне, была тесно связана с ИГИЛ”). 7. According to the applicants, on the night between 25 and 26 January 2017 a mass execution of at least 27 and up to 56 of the detained individuals, including the applicants’ relatives, took place at the Akhmat Kadyrov patrol police regiment (the Kadyrov regiment) in Grozny. The men executed were suspected either of the involvement in terrorism-related activities or of being homosexuals. 8. According to the applicants, their relatives were executed on the suspicion of the involvement in terrorism-related activities. 9. In July 2017 newspaper Novaya Gazeta (the newspaper) described the execution of 25-26 January 2017. The article was based on two detailed documents obtained from undisclosed sources in the Chechen police. The names of the applicants’ abducted relatives were listed among the victims. 10. In connection with the above publication, between 19 and 21 September 2017, the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Ms T. Moskalkova with high‐ranking law-enforcement officials visited Chechnya. 11. On 16 December 2016 police officers from the Staropromyslovskiy district police department (the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD) detained Z. Dzh. at home and took him away. Z. Dzh.’s passport for international travel (foreign passport) remained at home. 12. On 18 December 2016 the neighbourhood police officer confirmed to the first applicant that Z. Dzh. was detained at the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD. Between 18 and 31 December 2016 she brought there food for him and passed it on to the policemen. In the beginning of January 2017, the officers told her that her husband was not detained there anymore. He has gone missing since. Several days later officer S.-M. demanded that the first applicant stopped searching for her husband. 13. From the documents submitted by the Government it transpires that on or before 24 January 2017 the first applicant complained about her husband’s disappearance to the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD. Then, on 15 May and then 7 July 2017 she lodged two complaints about “unlawful actions” of officers from the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD with the Grozny town police department but to no avail. 14. On 9 January 2017 Mr A. A. drove with his neighbour Mr M.T. in Shali when their car was stopped by four police officers in a black Lada‐Priora car, who took both men, as well as Mr A.A.’s car, to the Shali district police department (the Shali ROVD). Mr A. A. has gone missing since. Both of his passports, national and foreign, were left at home. 15. On 10 January 2017 Mr M.T. was released and informed the fourth and fifth applicants about the abduction and the detention at the police station. A. A.’s car was later put up for sale by unidentified individuals. 16. Between February and April 2017 officers from the Shali ROVD and the Kadyrov regiment carried out several unauthorised searches of the applicants’ house. Nothing was found. 17. On 9 January 2017 Mr M. Sh. was driving his minivan with Mr B.B. in Serzhen-Yurt, when a group of armed men in military uniforms blocked them by their cars and took the two men away. M. Sh. has gone missing since. He did not have his foreign passport on him that day. 18. Between January and May 2010 the police carried out several unauthorised searches of M.Sh.’s house. Nothing was found. 19. On 10 January 2017 Mr M. S. was driving to work in his father’s car when he was stopped by policemen and taken to the Shali ROVD along with his car. He has gone missing since. 20. Later that day the neighbourhood police officer confirmed to his parents that M.S. was detained at the Shali ROVD. 21. On 13 January 2017 a group of police officers from the Shali ROVD searched the applicants’ house without authorisation. During the search one of the officers dialled M.S.’s number and passed on the telephone to his mother. M.S., who could barely speak, asked her to give the officers “whatever they were looking for” as only then would he be left alone. As a result, nothing of interest was found. Subsequently, the applicants’ house was searched on several more occasions. 22. On 11 January 2017 a group of police officers from the Kadyrov regiment arrived at the house of Mr R.L. Having searched it without authorisation, they seized a laptop, three cell phones, and Mr R.L.’s national and foreign passports. Then they took him away along with his Toyota Corolla car. 23. Mr R.L.’s parents were told to go to the Shali ROVD. Subsequently, from that police station Mr R. L. was taken with his car to the Kadyrov regiment in Grozny. He has gone missing since. 24. On various dates in 2017 and 2018, a number of relatives of the abducted men, including the applicants, were taken to their local police stations, where officers threatened them by death and expulsion of their families from Chechnya pressurising them to sign statements alleging that their missing relatives had gone to Syria. 25. According to the applicants, in mid-January and then on 8 February 2017 they were gathered at the headquarters of the Kadyrov regiment in Grozny and in the Shali recreational centre respectively along with several hundred residents of the Shali, Vedeno and Kurchaloy districts. The head of the Shali ROVD and the head of the 2nd unit of the Kadyrov regiment, had threatened those present saying that they should stop lodging complaints about the abduction of their relatives by the police as otherwise their other family members would “disappear” too. 26. Then, in September 2017, before the arrival of Ms Moskalkova in Grozny (see also paragraph 10 above), the applicants and their family members had been demanded by the police not to disclose to the “panel from Moscow” the officers’ involvement in their relatives’ disappearance as otherwise their other relatives would “pay for it”. 27. Between 11 and 14 July 2017 and then again in August 2017 the applicants and other relatives of the abducted men lodged complaints with the Investigative Committee (see also paragraph 13 above), describing the incidents, requesting that a criminal case be opened and asking that the investigation be carried out not by the Chechen law-enforcement agencies. 28. Between 15 and 24 November 2017 the applicants reiterated their complaints to the Investigative Committee and stressed that the Chechen law‐enforcement authorities were not taking any steps and ignored their numerous complaints. The applicants also described the intimidation and pressure put on them by the police to make them sign false statements of the abducted men’s alleged departure for Syria. 29. Between 7 July and 8 August 2017 the Shali ROVD opened criminal cases against each of the abducted men under Article 208 § 2 of the Criminal Code (membership of an illegal armed group) due to their membership of illegal armed groups in Syria. Their names were put on the wanted list and in August 2017 each of them was charged in absentia. 30. No steps were taken by the authorities to investigate the disappeared men’s alleged departure for Syria (see paragraph 38 below). 31. On 18 April 2017 the investigators from the Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee in the North Caucasus Federal Circuit (the investigators) initiated a preliminary inquiry (the inquiry) into the allegations of the abductions and murders, including the applicants’ relatives, by Chechen law‐enforcement agencies in January 2017. 32. In reply to the Court’s request for a copy of the entire contents of the inquiry file, the Government submitted a copy of its partial contents running up to 145 pages. The documents submitted contained only statements of the applicants and a few letters between the investigators and their counterparts in other law‐enforcement agencies. 33. According to the documents submitted, in July and August 2017 the investigators interviewed the applicants and other relatives of the disappeared men. The statements given were similar to the applicants’ submissions before the Court. In addition, the applicants stressed that they and their family members had been pressurised by the local police to sign statements alleging that their missing relatives had voluntarily gone to Syria. 34. On 29 June 2017 the investigators issued a refusal to open a criminal case (the refusal) into the allegations of the abductions and extrajudicial executions of at least 24 detainees (in the documents submitted also referred to as 27 and 31 detainees), including the applicants’ disappeared relatives, for the lack of corpus delicti. On 10 July 2017 the investigators’ superiors overruled the refusal as unlawful and premature, and ordered that an additional inquiry be carried out. 35. On 9 August 2017 the investigators issued another refusal referring to the opening of criminal cases against nineteen of the disappeared men, including the applicants’ relatives, due to their alleged membership in illegal armed groups in Syria. Referring, inter alia, to undisclosed statements of six heads of unspecified district police stations in Chechnya, who had denied any involvement of their officers in the alleged abductions and execution, the investigators concluded that the applicants’ allegations were unsubstantiated as the disappeared men had voluntarily gone to Syria. 36. On 14 August 2017 the investigators’ superiors overruled the above refusal and ordered an additional inquiry. 37. Subsequently, between 13 September 2017 and 9 February 2018, on five more occasions the investigators refused to open a criminal case. Four of the refusals were overruled and on each of those occasions, when criticising the investigators, their superiors pointed out that
“... the inquiry failed to examine the criminal cases [opened against the disappeared men]; the veracity of the information, serving as the basis for the criminal cases, has not been verified ... the inquiry file does not contain any evidence of the departure for Syria ...”
38.
On 9 February 2018 the last, seventh, refusal was issued. Its text was similar to the previous ones; the steps ordered to rectify the shortcomings of the previous refusals had not been taken and the compulsory orders of the superiors were not complied with. 39. On 13 November 2018 the legal counsel of the first and fourth applicants, as well as of the newspaper (see paragraph 9 above) appealed against the refusal of 9 February 2018 to the Essentuki Town Court in the Stavropol Region. They pointed out the following:
“... within the preliminary inquiry ... it is impossible to take such steps as questioning, confrontation, verification of the statement at the crime scene, search of premises and other ...
... the criminal cases against [the applicants’ disappeared relatives] ... in connection with their membership of illegal armed groups in Syria were opened only after the beginning of the inquiry into their possible killing by the Chechen law‐enforcement authorities and only upon receipt by the Chechnya Ministry of the Interior of the investigators’ requests for information ...
This might indicate an attempt by officers of law-enforcement agencies to cover-up the crime committed against those men ...
... the police officers against whom the applicants had complained, actively participated in the inquiry, had access to confidential information and put pressure on the applicants ...”
40.
On 14 December 2018 the Town Court rejected the appeal as unsubstantiated. 41. The applicants further appealed to the Stavropol Regional Court stressing that the Town Court had failed to examine the factual circumstances and elucidate controversies in the evidence obtained by the inquiry. 42. On 12 March 2019 the Stavropol Regional Court upheld the impugned refusal, as “... the court does not have the right to make conclusions concerning factual circumstances of the case, evaluation of evidence and legal qualification of the crime ...”
43.
From the documents submitted it follows that no criminal case has been opened to date. The whereabouts of the applicants’ disappeared relatives remain unknown. RELEVANT LEGAL FRAMEWORK
44.
For a summary of the relevant domestic law, see Dalakov v. Russia (no. 35152/09, §§ 51-53, 16 February 2016), and Turluyeva v. Russia (no. 63638/09, §§ 56-74, 20 June 2013). THE LAW
45.
The applicants complained that their relatives had disappeared after abduction by State agents and that the authorities had failed to effectively investigate the matter, in violation of Article 2 of the Convention. The relevant part of which reads as follows:
Article 2
“1.
Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law ...”
46.
The Government raised non-exhaustion plea as that the applicants had failed to appeal against the last (seventh) refusal. Only the first and fourth applicants lodged such an appeal in respect of their missing relatives Mr Z. Dzh. and Mr A.A.
47.
The applicants contested the Government’s submission. 48. The Court observes that the appeal referred to by the Government was lodged in respect of all five disappeared men and not only the relatives of the first and fourth applicants (see paragraph 39 above). Nevertheless, it considers that the question of whether the applicants have exhausted the domestic remedy referred to by the Government, is closely linked to the merits of their complaint under Article 2 of the Convention. The Court therefore decides to join it to the merits, which are to be examined below. 49. The Court notes that the complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible. 50. According to the Government, the applicants failed to make a prima facie case of abduction by State agents. Some of the applicants’ statements to the inquiry contained inconsistencies in the description of the incidents, such as the number of the witnesses present and the exact time of the abduction. The allegations of the pressure by the police to give false statements of their missing relatives’ alleged departure for Syria were unsubstantiated. 51. The applicants lodged complaints of the abductions only in July 2017 which significantly impeded progress of the inquiry, which, nonetheless, was “effective and prompt”. 52. The applicants contested the Government’s submission. (a) Alleged violation of the procedural limb of Article 2 of the Convention
53.
For a summary of relevant principles see Mustafa Tunç and Fecire Tunç v. Turkey [GC], no. 24014/05, §§ 169-82, 14 April 2015, and Dalakov, cited above, §§ 61-65. 54. No fully-fledged criminal investigation into the disappearance of the applicants’ relatives was carried out. Thus, the Court has to make its assessment based on the partial contents of the inquiry file furnished by the Government (see paragraph 38 above) and the documents enclosed with the applicants’ submissions. Despite the limited number of documents, the Court is able examine the case on its merits and conclude that the inquiry fell below the Convention standards for the following reasons. 55. According to the Government, the applicants complained to the authorities about the abductions in seven months after the events. However, from the documents submitted and undisputed by the parties, it transpires that on 24 January 2017 the authorities had been informed about Mr Z.Dzh.’s disappearance (see paragraph 13 above) and that on 18 April 2017 the inquiry had been already opened (see paragraph 31 above). 56. The Government referred to inconsistencies in the applicants’ statements concerning details of the abductions (see paragraph 50 above). Considering that those statements had been given to the inquiry, the investigators had the opportunity to verify them by obtaining further evidence such as statements from the applicants’ neighbours, the police officers allegedly involved in the abductions, or the other persons detained in the police stations at the material time. However, no steps were taken in that direction (see paragraph 32 above). 57. The information collected by the inquiry contained clear and consistent allegations (see paragraphs 13 and 27-28 above) which should have prompted the authorities to initiate a fully‐fledged criminal investigation. For instance, in view of the allegations that the applicants’ relatives had disappeared after being taken to the local police stations, no urgent steps were taken to verify the stations’ logbooks, inspect their premises or question the on‐duty officers or any other individuals who could have been there at the relevant time. No steps were taken to verify whether it was at all possible for the applicants’ relatives to leave the country to go to Syria in the absence of identity documents necessary for the travel (see paragraphs 11, 14, 17 and 22 above). However, in spite of the applicants’ detailed and concordant complaints, the authorities not only limited themselves to taking a few formal steps, but failed to coordinate the material and information collected (see paragraphs 37 and 39 above) and refused to investigate the allegations any further. 58. The Court has already found that, as regards allegations concerning deprivation of life by State agents, an inquiry alone is not capable of leading to the punishment of those responsible, if not followed by a fully-fledged investigation, especially where there are conflicting versions of events, as in the present case (see Dalakov, cited above, §§ 69-72). 59. As to the Government’s non-exhaustion plea, considering the above along with the seven refusals to open a fully-fledged investigation (see paragraph 38 above), the remedy referred to by the Government appears to have been devoid of any purpose, given that the refusals were consistently found deficient by the investigators’ superiors (see paragraphs 36-37 above) (see Devyatkin v. Russia, no. 40384/06, § 30, 24 October 2017, and, for a similar situation, Uzhakhov and Albagachiyeva v Russia [Committee], no. 76635/11, § 78, 23 June 2020). Therefore, the Court finds that the applicants were not obliged to pursue the remedy referred to by the Government and dismisses their objection under this head. 60. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention under its procedural limb. (b) Alleged violation of the substantive limb of Article 2 of the Convention
61.
For a summary of the principles relating to the establishment of matters in dispute, see El Masri v. “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” [GC], no. 39630/09, §§ 151-53, 13 December 2012, and the distribution of burden of proof, see Turluyeva, cited above, § 85. 62. The parties disputed that the applicants’ relatives were abducted by the police and have remained missing since. The key issue is therefore whether the applicants made a prima facie case of the abduction by State agents. 63. The Government denied that the applicants’ relatives were missing and submitted that they had voluntarily left to join illegal armed groups in Syria. Their statement was worded in general terms and contained no evidence to substantiate it, such as the description of the circumstances under which the applicants’ relatives had allegedly gone to Syria, including such information as the possible dates and place of their alleged departure and the ways of crossing the borders between Russia and Syria without identity documents (see paragraphs 37, 39 and 30 above). From the documents submitted it follows that the inquiry had no such evidence either (see paragraphs 37-38 above). 64. In such circumstances, the Court is satisfied that the applicants have made a prima facie case that their relatives were taken away by the police and have been missing since, in the circumstances as described by them in their complaints to the national authorities and to this Court. Following its findings in a number of cases, where similar detention by State agents was regarded as life-threatening (see, for a recent example, S.A. and Others v. Russia [Committee], no. 2297/15, § 63, 14 January 2020), the Court finds that the lack of information concerning the fate of Messrs Z. Dh., A.A., M. Sh., M.S. and R.L. for almost five years after their abduction supports this assumption. Accordingly, the evidence available permits the Court to establish to the requisite standard of proof that Messrs Z.Dh., A.A., M. Sh., M.S. and R.L. must be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by State agents. 65. This being so, and in the absence of any plausible justification put forward by the Government, the Court finds that the death of Messrs Z.Dh., A.A., M. Sh., M.S. and R.L. can be attributed to the State and that there has been a violation of the substantive limb of Article 2 of the Convention. 66. The applicants complained of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of their mental suffering caused by the disappearance of their relatives. They also complained of a violation of Article 5 of the Convention on account of the unlawfulness of their abducted relatives’ detention and the lack of domestic remedies in respect of their complaints under Article 2 of the Convention. The relevant provisions read as follows:
Article 3
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Article 5
“1.
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person ...”
Article 13
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority ...”
67.
The Government did not comment on the applicants’ submissions under Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention. As for the complaint under Article 13, they stated that it was manifestly ill-founded. 68. The applicants reiterated their submissions. 69. The Court has found on numerous occasions that a situation of enforced disappearance gives rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the close relatives of the victim (see, most recently, Adzhigitova and Others v. Russia, nos. 40165/07 and 2593/08, § 227, 22 June 2021). It finds that the applicants must be considered victims of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention. It therefore finds a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on this account. 70. The Court confirms that since it has been established that Messrs Z.Dh., A.A., M.Sh., M.S. and R.L. were detained by State agents, without any legal grounds or acknowledgment of such detention, this constitutes a particularly serious violation of Article 5 of the Convention (see Tsakoyevy v. Russia, no. 16397/07, § 142, 2 October 2018). The Court accordingly finds a violation of this provision in respect of the applicants’ abducted relatives. 71. The complaint under Article 13 concerns the same issues as those examined above in paragraph 60 under the procedural limb of Article 2 of the Convention. Therefore, it should be declared admissible. 72. The Court finds that in the absence of a fully-fledged investigation into the applicants’ allegations of their relatives’ abduction by State agents, any other possible remedy becomes inaccessible in practice. The Court thus finds that the applicants did not have at their disposal an effective domestic remedy for their grievances under Article 2 of the Convention, in breach of Article 13 of the Convention. 73. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention ... the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
74.
The applicants claimed compensation for pecuniary and non‐pecuniary damage in the amounts indicated in the Appendix. Their calculations were based on the provisions of the Russian Civil Code, the subsistence level and the Ogden Actuarial Tables. As for non-pecuniary damage, they left the determination of the amounts to the Court, asking that the award be made for each family separately. 75. The Government submitted that the awards should be made according to the case-law and that the compensation for non-pecuniary damage in respect of the second, third, seventh, eighth and fourteenth applicants should be reduced as at the material time those applicants had been minors. 76. The Court awards the applicants the amounts indicated in the Appendix, plus any tax that may be chargeable on them. 77. The applicants claimed 8,474 euros (EUR) for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court and enclosed copies of the legal representation contract and relevant invoices. 78. According to the Government, the claim was unreasonable. 79. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and its case‐law, the Court awards the applicants EUR 8,474 as requested, plus any tax chargeable to them. The amount is to be paid into the bank account of the applicants’ representatives. 80. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points. FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the Appendix in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, plus any tax that may be chargeable; in respect of costs and expenses EUR 8,474 (eight thousand four hundred and seventy‐four euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, to be paid into the account of the applicants’ representatives as indicated by the applicants;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 14 December 2021, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
{signature_p_2}
Olga Chernishova Peeter Roosma Deputy Registrar President

APPENDIX
No.
Applicant’s name, year of birth, place of residence and kinship with missing person and the latter’s year of birth
Compensation for pecuniary and non‐pecuniary damage sought by the applicant
Just satisfaction awarded by the Court
1
Ms A.
A., 1991,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
wife of Mr Z.
Dzh.,
who was born in 1993
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
2,080,112 roubles (RUB) (23,400 euros (EUR))
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the first, second and third applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 18,000 (eighteen thousand euros) to the first, second and third applicants jointly
2
Ms S. A., 2016,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr Z. Dzh.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 817,710
(about EUR 9,200)
Damage: see award for the first applicant
3
Mr S. A., 2017,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
son of Z. Dzh.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 855,523
(about EUR 9,600)
Damage: see award for the first applicant

4
Ms N. A., 1961,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
mother of Mr A.
A., who was born in 1982
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 947,525
(about EUR 10,600)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 24 ,000 (twenty-four thousand euros) to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth applicants jointly
5
Mr Kh.
A., 1958,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
father of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court
Pecuniary damage:
RUB 947,525
(about 10,600 EUR )
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

6
Ms A. K., 1990,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
wife of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,421,288
(about EUR 16,000)
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

7
Ms M. A., 2012,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 380,531
(about EUR 4,300)
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

8
Ms S. A., 2016,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 479,296
(about EUR 5,400 )
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

9
Ms R. K., 1956,
Shali,
mother of Mr M.
Sh.,
who was born in 1989
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,535,549
(about EUR 17,200)

Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the ninth applicant

Pecuniary damage: EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) to the ninth applicant
10
Mr A. S., 1953,
Shali,
father of Mr M. S.,
who was born in 1987
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,249,288
(about EUR 14,000)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 13,000 (thirteen thousand euros) to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth applicants jointly
11
Ms R. Kh.,1956,
Shali,
mother of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,535,549
(about EUR 17,300)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

12
Mr A. S., 2007,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 138,883
(about EUR 1,600)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

13
Mr T. S., 2008,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 172,649
(about EUR 2,000)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

14
Mr A. S.,
2010,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 204,726
(about EUR 2,300)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

15
Ms T. L.,
1964,
Shali,
mother of Mr R. L., who was born in 1987
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,719,703
(about EUR 19,300)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the fifteenth applicant

Pecuniary damage: EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) to the fifteenth applicant.
THIRD SECTION
CASE OF A.A. AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Application no.
37008/19)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG
14 December 2021

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of A.A. and Others v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Peeter Roosma, President, Dmitry Dedov, Andreas Zünd, judges,and Olga Chernishova, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to:
the application (no.
37008/19) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by Russian nationals, listed in the appended table (“the applicants”), on 27 June 2019;
the decision to give notice to the Russian Government (“the Government”) of the application;
the decision not to have the names of the applicants disclosed;
the parties’ observations;
Having deliberated in private on 23 November 2021,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
INTRODUCTION
1.
The case concerns the applicants’ relatives’ abduction by State agents perpetrated in Chechnya between December 2016 and January 2017 and the lack of due investigation thereof. THE FACTS
2.
The applicants, all of whom are Russian nationals, are listed in the Appendix. They were represented before the Court by Stichting Russian Justice Initiative, an NGO practising in Moscow. 3. The Government were represented initially by Mr M. Galperin, Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights, and lately by Mr M. Vinogradov, his successor in that office. 4. The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows. 5. On 17 December 2016 in Chechnya, a group of young men killed two police officers. In retaliation, all of the culprits were killed by the authorities. 6. Between 17 December 2016 and 25 January 2017 the authorities carried out special operations as the result of which a number of local residents were arrested at homes and in the streets. These events were reported by the press, for example, by a federal TV channel Russia24 (Россия24) of 11 January 2017 “The gang eliminated in Chechnya had close ties with ISIS” (“Банда, уничтоженная в Чечне, была тесно связана с ИГИЛ”). 7. According to the applicants, on the night between 25 and 26 January 2017 a mass execution of at least 27 and up to 56 of the detained individuals, including the applicants’ relatives, took place at the Akhmat Kadyrov patrol police regiment (the Kadyrov regiment) in Grozny. The men executed were suspected either of the involvement in terrorism-related activities or of being homosexuals. 8. According to the applicants, their relatives were executed on the suspicion of the involvement in terrorism-related activities. 9. In July 2017 newspaper Novaya Gazeta (the newspaper) described the execution of 25-26 January 2017. The article was based on two detailed documents obtained from undisclosed sources in the Chechen police. The names of the applicants’ abducted relatives were listed among the victims. 10. In connection with the above publication, between 19 and 21 September 2017, the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Ms T. Moskalkova with high‐ranking law-enforcement officials visited Chechnya. 11. On 16 December 2016 police officers from the Staropromyslovskiy district police department (the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD) detained Z. Dzh. at home and took him away. Z. Dzh.’s passport for international travel (foreign passport) remained at home. 12. On 18 December 2016 the neighbourhood police officer confirmed to the first applicant that Z. Dzh. was detained at the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD. Between 18 and 31 December 2016 she brought there food for him and passed it on to the policemen. In the beginning of January 2017, the officers told her that her husband was not detained there anymore. He has gone missing since. Several days later officer S.-M. demanded that the first applicant stopped searching for her husband. 13. From the documents submitted by the Government it transpires that on or before 24 January 2017 the first applicant complained about her husband’s disappearance to the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD. Then, on 15 May and then 7 July 2017 she lodged two complaints about “unlawful actions” of officers from the Staropromyslovskiy ROVD with the Grozny town police department but to no avail. 14. On 9 January 2017 Mr A. A. drove with his neighbour Mr M.T. in Shali when their car was stopped by four police officers in a black Lada‐Priora car, who took both men, as well as Mr A.A.’s car, to the Shali district police department (the Shali ROVD). Mr A. A. has gone missing since. Both of his passports, national and foreign, were left at home. 15. On 10 January 2017 Mr M.T. was released and informed the fourth and fifth applicants about the abduction and the detention at the police station. A. A.’s car was later put up for sale by unidentified individuals. 16. Between February and April 2017 officers from the Shali ROVD and the Kadyrov regiment carried out several unauthorised searches of the applicants’ house. Nothing was found. 17. On 9 January 2017 Mr M. Sh. was driving his minivan with Mr B.B. in Serzhen-Yurt, when a group of armed men in military uniforms blocked them by their cars and took the two men away. M. Sh. has gone missing since. He did not have his foreign passport on him that day. 18. Between January and May 2010 the police carried out several unauthorised searches of M.Sh.’s house. Nothing was found. 19. On 10 January 2017 Mr M. S. was driving to work in his father’s car when he was stopped by policemen and taken to the Shali ROVD along with his car. He has gone missing since. 20. Later that day the neighbourhood police officer confirmed to his parents that M.S. was detained at the Shali ROVD. 21. On 13 January 2017 a group of police officers from the Shali ROVD searched the applicants’ house without authorisation. During the search one of the officers dialled M.S.’s number and passed on the telephone to his mother. M.S., who could barely speak, asked her to give the officers “whatever they were looking for” as only then would he be left alone. As a result, nothing of interest was found. Subsequently, the applicants’ house was searched on several more occasions. 22. On 11 January 2017 a group of police officers from the Kadyrov regiment arrived at the house of Mr R.L. Having searched it without authorisation, they seized a laptop, three cell phones, and Mr R.L.’s national and foreign passports. Then they took him away along with his Toyota Corolla car. 23. Mr R.L.’s parents were told to go to the Shali ROVD. Subsequently, from that police station Mr R. L. was taken with his car to the Kadyrov regiment in Grozny. He has gone missing since. 24. On various dates in 2017 and 2018, a number of relatives of the abducted men, including the applicants, were taken to their local police stations, where officers threatened them by death and expulsion of their families from Chechnya pressurising them to sign statements alleging that their missing relatives had gone to Syria. 25. According to the applicants, in mid-January and then on 8 February 2017 they were gathered at the headquarters of the Kadyrov regiment in Grozny and in the Shali recreational centre respectively along with several hundred residents of the Shali, Vedeno and Kurchaloy districts. The head of the Shali ROVD and the head of the 2nd unit of the Kadyrov regiment, had threatened those present saying that they should stop lodging complaints about the abduction of their relatives by the police as otherwise their other family members would “disappear” too. 26. Then, in September 2017, before the arrival of Ms Moskalkova in Grozny (see also paragraph 10 above), the applicants and their family members had been demanded by the police not to disclose to the “panel from Moscow” the officers’ involvement in their relatives’ disappearance as otherwise their other relatives would “pay for it”. 27. Between 11 and 14 July 2017 and then again in August 2017 the applicants and other relatives of the abducted men lodged complaints with the Investigative Committee (see also paragraph 13 above), describing the incidents, requesting that a criminal case be opened and asking that the investigation be carried out not by the Chechen law-enforcement agencies. 28. Between 15 and 24 November 2017 the applicants reiterated their complaints to the Investigative Committee and stressed that the Chechen law‐enforcement authorities were not taking any steps and ignored their numerous complaints. The applicants also described the intimidation and pressure put on them by the police to make them sign false statements of the abducted men’s alleged departure for Syria. 29. Between 7 July and 8 August 2017 the Shali ROVD opened criminal cases against each of the abducted men under Article 208 § 2 of the Criminal Code (membership of an illegal armed group) due to their membership of illegal armed groups in Syria. Their names were put on the wanted list and in August 2017 each of them was charged in absentia. 30. No steps were taken by the authorities to investigate the disappeared men’s alleged departure for Syria (see paragraph 38 below). 31. On 18 April 2017 the investigators from the Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee in the North Caucasus Federal Circuit (the investigators) initiated a preliminary inquiry (the inquiry) into the allegations of the abductions and murders, including the applicants’ relatives, by Chechen law‐enforcement agencies in January 2017. 32. In reply to the Court’s request for a copy of the entire contents of the inquiry file, the Government submitted a copy of its partial contents running up to 145 pages. The documents submitted contained only statements of the applicants and a few letters between the investigators and their counterparts in other law‐enforcement agencies. 33. According to the documents submitted, in July and August 2017 the investigators interviewed the applicants and other relatives of the disappeared men. The statements given were similar to the applicants’ submissions before the Court. In addition, the applicants stressed that they and their family members had been pressurised by the local police to sign statements alleging that their missing relatives had voluntarily gone to Syria. 34. On 29 June 2017 the investigators issued a refusal to open a criminal case (the refusal) into the allegations of the abductions and extrajudicial executions of at least 24 detainees (in the documents submitted also referred to as 27 and 31 detainees), including the applicants’ disappeared relatives, for the lack of corpus delicti. On 10 July 2017 the investigators’ superiors overruled the refusal as unlawful and premature, and ordered that an additional inquiry be carried out. 35. On 9 August 2017 the investigators issued another refusal referring to the opening of criminal cases against nineteen of the disappeared men, including the applicants’ relatives, due to their alleged membership in illegal armed groups in Syria. Referring, inter alia, to undisclosed statements of six heads of unspecified district police stations in Chechnya, who had denied any involvement of their officers in the alleged abductions and execution, the investigators concluded that the applicants’ allegations were unsubstantiated as the disappeared men had voluntarily gone to Syria. 36. On 14 August 2017 the investigators’ superiors overruled the above refusal and ordered an additional inquiry. 37. Subsequently, between 13 September 2017 and 9 February 2018, on five more occasions the investigators refused to open a criminal case. Four of the refusals were overruled and on each of those occasions, when criticising the investigators, their superiors pointed out that
“... the inquiry failed to examine the criminal cases [opened against the disappeared men]; the veracity of the information, serving as the basis for the criminal cases, has not been verified ... the inquiry file does not contain any evidence of the departure for Syria ...”
38.
On 9 February 2018 the last, seventh, refusal was issued. Its text was similar to the previous ones; the steps ordered to rectify the shortcomings of the previous refusals had not been taken and the compulsory orders of the superiors were not complied with. 39. On 13 November 2018 the legal counsel of the first and fourth applicants, as well as of the newspaper (see paragraph 9 above) appealed against the refusal of 9 February 2018 to the Essentuki Town Court in the Stavropol Region. They pointed out the following:
“... within the preliminary inquiry ... it is impossible to take such steps as questioning, confrontation, verification of the statement at the crime scene, search of premises and other ...
... the criminal cases against [the applicants’ disappeared relatives] ... in connection with their membership of illegal armed groups in Syria were opened only after the beginning of the inquiry into their possible killing by the Chechen law‐enforcement authorities and only upon receipt by the Chechnya Ministry of the Interior of the investigators’ requests for information ...
This might indicate an attempt by officers of law-enforcement agencies to cover-up the crime committed against those men ...
... the police officers against whom the applicants had complained, actively participated in the inquiry, had access to confidential information and put pressure on the applicants ...”
40.
On 14 December 2018 the Town Court rejected the appeal as unsubstantiated. 41. The applicants further appealed to the Stavropol Regional Court stressing that the Town Court had failed to examine the factual circumstances and elucidate controversies in the evidence obtained by the inquiry. 42. On 12 March 2019 the Stavropol Regional Court upheld the impugned refusal, as “... the court does not have the right to make conclusions concerning factual circumstances of the case, evaluation of evidence and legal qualification of the crime ...”
43.
From the documents submitted it follows that no criminal case has been opened to date. The whereabouts of the applicants’ disappeared relatives remain unknown. RELEVANT LEGAL FRAMEWORK
44.
For a summary of the relevant domestic law, see Dalakov v. Russia (no. 35152/09, §§ 51-53, 16 February 2016), and Turluyeva v. Russia (no. 63638/09, §§ 56-74, 20 June 2013). THE LAW
45.
The applicants complained that their relatives had disappeared after abduction by State agents and that the authorities had failed to effectively investigate the matter, in violation of Article 2 of the Convention. The relevant part of which reads as follows:
Article 2
“1.
Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law ...”
46.
The Government raised non-exhaustion plea as that the applicants had failed to appeal against the last (seventh) refusal. Only the first and fourth applicants lodged such an appeal in respect of their missing relatives Mr Z. Dzh. and Mr A.A.
47.
The applicants contested the Government’s submission. 48. The Court observes that the appeal referred to by the Government was lodged in respect of all five disappeared men and not only the relatives of the first and fourth applicants (see paragraph 39 above). Nevertheless, it considers that the question of whether the applicants have exhausted the domestic remedy referred to by the Government, is closely linked to the merits of their complaint under Article 2 of the Convention. The Court therefore decides to join it to the merits, which are to be examined below. 49. The Court notes that the complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible. 50. According to the Government, the applicants failed to make a prima facie case of abduction by State agents. Some of the applicants’ statements to the inquiry contained inconsistencies in the description of the incidents, such as the number of the witnesses present and the exact time of the abduction. The allegations of the pressure by the police to give false statements of their missing relatives’ alleged departure for Syria were unsubstantiated. 51. The applicants lodged complaints of the abductions only in July 2017 which significantly impeded progress of the inquiry, which, nonetheless, was “effective and prompt”. 52. The applicants contested the Government’s submission. (a) Alleged violation of the procedural limb of Article 2 of the Convention
53.
For a summary of relevant principles see Mustafa Tunç and Fecire Tunç v. Turkey [GC], no. 24014/05, §§ 169-82, 14 April 2015, and Dalakov, cited above, §§ 61-65. 54. No fully-fledged criminal investigation into the disappearance of the applicants’ relatives was carried out. Thus, the Court has to make its assessment based on the partial contents of the inquiry file furnished by the Government (see paragraph 38 above) and the documents enclosed with the applicants’ submissions. Despite the limited number of documents, the Court is able examine the case on its merits and conclude that the inquiry fell below the Convention standards for the following reasons. 55. According to the Government, the applicants complained to the authorities about the abductions in seven months after the events. However, from the documents submitted and undisputed by the parties, it transpires that on 24 January 2017 the authorities had been informed about Mr Z.Dzh.’s disappearance (see paragraph 13 above) and that on 18 April 2017 the inquiry had been already opened (see paragraph 31 above). 56. The Government referred to inconsistencies in the applicants’ statements concerning details of the abductions (see paragraph 50 above). Considering that those statements had been given to the inquiry, the investigators had the opportunity to verify them by obtaining further evidence such as statements from the applicants’ neighbours, the police officers allegedly involved in the abductions, or the other persons detained in the police stations at the material time. However, no steps were taken in that direction (see paragraph 32 above). 57. The information collected by the inquiry contained clear and consistent allegations (see paragraphs 13 and 27-28 above) which should have prompted the authorities to initiate a fully‐fledged criminal investigation. For instance, in view of the allegations that the applicants’ relatives had disappeared after being taken to the local police stations, no urgent steps were taken to verify the stations’ logbooks, inspect their premises or question the on‐duty officers or any other individuals who could have been there at the relevant time. No steps were taken to verify whether it was at all possible for the applicants’ relatives to leave the country to go to Syria in the absence of identity documents necessary for the travel (see paragraphs 11, 14, 17 and 22 above). However, in spite of the applicants’ detailed and concordant complaints, the authorities not only limited themselves to taking a few formal steps, but failed to coordinate the material and information collected (see paragraphs 37 and 39 above) and refused to investigate the allegations any further. 58. The Court has already found that, as regards allegations concerning deprivation of life by State agents, an inquiry alone is not capable of leading to the punishment of those responsible, if not followed by a fully-fledged investigation, especially where there are conflicting versions of events, as in the present case (see Dalakov, cited above, §§ 69-72). 59. As to the Government’s non-exhaustion plea, considering the above along with the seven refusals to open a fully-fledged investigation (see paragraph 38 above), the remedy referred to by the Government appears to have been devoid of any purpose, given that the refusals were consistently found deficient by the investigators’ superiors (see paragraphs 36-37 above) (see Devyatkin v. Russia, no. 40384/06, § 30, 24 October 2017, and, for a similar situation, Uzhakhov and Albagachiyeva v Russia [Committee], no. 76635/11, § 78, 23 June 2020). Therefore, the Court finds that the applicants were not obliged to pursue the remedy referred to by the Government and dismisses their objection under this head. 60. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention under its procedural limb. (b) Alleged violation of the substantive limb of Article 2 of the Convention
61.
For a summary of the principles relating to the establishment of matters in dispute, see El Masri v. “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” [GC], no. 39630/09, §§ 151-53, 13 December 2012, and the distribution of burden of proof, see Turluyeva, cited above, § 85. 62. The parties disputed that the applicants’ relatives were abducted by the police and have remained missing since. The key issue is therefore whether the applicants made a prima facie case of the abduction by State agents. 63. The Government denied that the applicants’ relatives were missing and submitted that they had voluntarily left to join illegal armed groups in Syria. Their statement was worded in general terms and contained no evidence to substantiate it, such as the description of the circumstances under which the applicants’ relatives had allegedly gone to Syria, including such information as the possible dates and place of their alleged departure and the ways of crossing the borders between Russia and Syria without identity documents (see paragraphs 37, 39 and 30 above). From the documents submitted it follows that the inquiry had no such evidence either (see paragraphs 37-38 above). 64. In such circumstances, the Court is satisfied that the applicants have made a prima facie case that their relatives were taken away by the police and have been missing since, in the circumstances as described by them in their complaints to the national authorities and to this Court. Following its findings in a number of cases, where similar detention by State agents was regarded as life-threatening (see, for a recent example, S.A. and Others v. Russia [Committee], no. 2297/15, § 63, 14 January 2020), the Court finds that the lack of information concerning the fate of Messrs Z. Dh., A.A., M. Sh., M.S. and R.L. for almost five years after their abduction supports this assumption. Accordingly, the evidence available permits the Court to establish to the requisite standard of proof that Messrs Z.Dh., A.A., M. Sh., M.S. and R.L. must be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by State agents. 65. This being so, and in the absence of any plausible justification put forward by the Government, the Court finds that the death of Messrs Z.Dh., A.A., M. Sh., M.S. and R.L. can be attributed to the State and that there has been a violation of the substantive limb of Article 2 of the Convention. 66. The applicants complained of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of their mental suffering caused by the disappearance of their relatives. They also complained of a violation of Article 5 of the Convention on account of the unlawfulness of their abducted relatives’ detention and the lack of domestic remedies in respect of their complaints under Article 2 of the Convention. The relevant provisions read as follows:
Article 3
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Article 5
“1.
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person ...”
Article 13
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority ...”
67.
The Government did not comment on the applicants’ submissions under Articles 3 and 5 of the Convention. As for the complaint under Article 13, they stated that it was manifestly ill-founded. 68. The applicants reiterated their submissions. 69. The Court has found on numerous occasions that a situation of enforced disappearance gives rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the close relatives of the victim (see, most recently, Adzhigitova and Others v. Russia, nos. 40165/07 and 2593/08, § 227, 22 June 2021). It finds that the applicants must be considered victims of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention. It therefore finds a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on this account. 70. The Court confirms that since it has been established that Messrs Z.Dh., A.A., M.Sh., M.S. and R.L. were detained by State agents, without any legal grounds or acknowledgment of such detention, this constitutes a particularly serious violation of Article 5 of the Convention (see Tsakoyevy v. Russia, no. 16397/07, § 142, 2 October 2018). The Court accordingly finds a violation of this provision in respect of the applicants’ abducted relatives. 71. The complaint under Article 13 concerns the same issues as those examined above in paragraph 60 under the procedural limb of Article 2 of the Convention. Therefore, it should be declared admissible. 72. The Court finds that in the absence of a fully-fledged investigation into the applicants’ allegations of their relatives’ abduction by State agents, any other possible remedy becomes inaccessible in practice. The Court thus finds that the applicants did not have at their disposal an effective domestic remedy for their grievances under Article 2 of the Convention, in breach of Article 13 of the Convention. 73. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention ... the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
74.
The applicants claimed compensation for pecuniary and non‐pecuniary damage in the amounts indicated in the Appendix. Their calculations were based on the provisions of the Russian Civil Code, the subsistence level and the Ogden Actuarial Tables. As for non-pecuniary damage, they left the determination of the amounts to the Court, asking that the award be made for each family separately. 75. The Government submitted that the awards should be made according to the case-law and that the compensation for non-pecuniary damage in respect of the second, third, seventh, eighth and fourteenth applicants should be reduced as at the material time those applicants had been minors. 76. The Court awards the applicants the amounts indicated in the Appendix, plus any tax that may be chargeable on them. 77. The applicants claimed 8,474 euros (EUR) for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court and enclosed copies of the legal representation contract and relevant invoices. 78. According to the Government, the claim was unreasonable. 79. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and its case‐law, the Court awards the applicants EUR 8,474 as requested, plus any tax chargeable to them. The amount is to be paid into the bank account of the applicants’ representatives. 80. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points. FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the Appendix in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, plus any tax that may be chargeable; in respect of costs and expenses EUR 8,474 (eight thousand four hundred and seventy‐four euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, to be paid into the account of the applicants’ representatives as indicated by the applicants;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 14 December 2021, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
{signature_p_2}
Olga Chernishova Peeter Roosma Deputy Registrar President

APPENDIX
No.
Applicant’s name, year of birth, place of residence and kinship with missing person and the latter’s year of birth
Compensation for pecuniary and non‐pecuniary damage sought by the applicant
Just satisfaction awarded by the Court
1
Ms A.
A., 1991,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
wife of Mr Z.
Dzh.,
who was born in 1993
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
2,080,112 roubles (RUB) (23,400 euros (EUR))
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the first, second and third applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 18,000 (eighteen thousand euros) to the first, second and third applicants jointly
2
Ms S. A., 2016,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr Z. Dzh.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 817,710
(about EUR 9,200)
Damage: see award for the first applicant
3
Mr S. A., 2017,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
son of Z. Dzh.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 855,523
(about EUR 9,600)
Damage: see award for the first applicant

4
Ms N. A., 1961,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
mother of Mr A.
A., who was born in 1982
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 947,525
(about EUR 10,600)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 24 ,000 (twenty-four thousand euros) to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth applicants jointly
5
Mr Kh.
A., 1958,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
father of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court
Pecuniary damage:
RUB 947,525
(about 10,600 EUR )
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

6
Ms A. K., 1990,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
wife of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,421,288
(about EUR 16,000)
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

7
Ms M. A., 2012,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 380,531
(about EUR 4,300)
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

8
Ms S. A., 2016,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 479,296
(about EUR 5,400 )
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

9
Ms R. K., 1956,
Shali,
mother of Mr M.
Sh.,
who was born in 1989
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,535,549
(about EUR 17,200)

Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the ninth applicant

Pecuniary damage: EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) to the ninth applicant
10
Mr A. S., 1953,
Shali,
father of Mr M. S.,
who was born in 1987
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,249,288
(about EUR 14,000)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 13,000 (thirteen thousand euros) to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth applicants jointly
11
Ms R. Kh.,1956,
Shali,
mother of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,535,549
(about EUR 17,300)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

12
Mr A. S., 2007,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 138,883
(about EUR 1,600)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

13
Mr T. S., 2008,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 172,649
(about EUR 2,000)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

14
Mr A. S.,
2010,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 204,726
(about EUR 2,300)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

15
Ms T. L.,
1964,
Shali,
mother of Mr R. L., who was born in 1987
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,719,703
(about EUR 19,300)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the fifteenth applicant

Pecuniary damage: EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) to the fifteenth applicant.
No. Applicant’s name, year of birth, place of residence and kinship with missing person and the latter’s year of birth
Compensation for pecuniary and non‐pecuniary damage sought by the applicant
Just satisfaction awarded by the Court
1
Ms A.
A., 1991,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
wife of Mr Z.
Dzh.,
who was born in 1993
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
2,080,112 roubles (RUB) (23,400 euros (EUR))
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the first, second and third applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 18,000 (eighteen thousand euros) to the first, second and third applicants jointly
2
Ms S. A., 2016,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr Z. Dzh.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 817,710
(about EUR 9,200)
Damage: see award for the first applicant
3
Mr S. A., 2017,
Verkhniy-Naur,
currently in Germany,
son of Z. Dzh.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 855,523
(about EUR 9,600)
Damage: see award for the first applicant

4
Ms N. A., 1961,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
mother of Mr A.
A., who was born in 1982
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 947,525
(about EUR 10,600)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 24 ,000 (twenty-four thousand euros) to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth applicants jointly
5
Mr Kh.
A., 1958,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
father of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court
Pecuniary damage:
RUB 947,525
(about 10,600 EUR )
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

6
Ms A. K., 1990,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
wife of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,421,288
(about EUR 16,000)
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

7
Ms M. A., 2012,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 380,531
(about EUR 4,300)
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

8
Ms S. A., 2016,
Shali,
currently in Germany,
daughter of Mr A.
A.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 479,296
(about EUR 5,400 )
Damage: see award for the fourth applicant

9
Ms R. K., 1956,
Shali,
mother of Mr M.
Sh.,
who was born in 1989
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,535,549
(about EUR 17,200)

Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the ninth applicant

Pecuniary damage: EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) to the ninth applicant
10
Mr A. S., 1953,
Shali,
father of Mr M. S.,
who was born in 1987
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,249,288
(about EUR 14,000)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth applicants jointly;

Pecuniary damage: EUR 13,000 (thirteen thousand euros) to the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth applicants jointly
11
Ms R. Kh.,1956,
Shali,
mother of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,535,549
(about EUR 17,300)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

12
Mr A. S., 2007,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 138,883
(about EUR 1,600)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

13
Mr T. S., 2008,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 172,649
(about EUR 2,000)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

14
Mr A. S.,
2010,
Shali,
son of Mr M. S.
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 204,726
(about EUR 2,300)
Damage: see award for the tenth applicant

15
Ms T. L.,
1964,
Shali,
mother of Mr R. L., who was born in 1987
Non-pecuniary damage: in an amount to be determined by the Court

Pecuniary damage:
RUB 1,719,703
(about EUR 19,300)
Non-pecuniary damage:
EUR 60,000 (sixty thousand euros) to the fifteenth applicant

Pecuniary damage: EUR 6,000 (six thousand euros) to the fifteenth applicant.