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ECHR obligates RF to pay almost 2 mln euros to missing Chechens' families

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has obligated the Russian authorities to pay over 1.9 million euros in compensation to Chechens who lost their relatives in the North Caucasus in 2000-2006.

The lawsuit against the Russian government was filed by 90 applicants, four of whom live in Belgium, one in Norway and the others in Chechnya. The applicants claimed that their relatives - 36 persons in all - had been abducted by unidentified armed men between 2000 and 2006. They hold that the abductors were federal servicemen because they were wearing camouflage uniform and spoke Russian without an accent.

"Armed with machine guns, they broke into the applicants' homes, searched the premises, checked the identity documents of the applicants' relatives and took them away in military vehicles. None of the applicants have had any news of their missing relatives since," the Court said in its judgment.

Criminal investigations were opened in all twenty cases. They were subsequently suspended on several occasions and remain pending without having established who was responsible for the abductions or where the applicants' missing relatives had gone.

The applicants complained that the law enforcement agencies had failed to carry out proper investigations into the circumstances of their disappearance. The applicants also complained that they did not have any effective remedy at national level in respect of their complaints.

The Russian government did not challenge the allegations as presented by the applicants. However, it stated that there was no evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that State officials had been involved in the abductions.

The ECHR held unanimously that there had violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of the right to life, right to liberty and security, right to effective remedy, and prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment.

The total amount awarded in the twenty applications in respect of non-pecuniary damage is 1,928,000 euros. The Court held that Russia was to pay the applicants amounts between 23,000 euros and 300,000 euros per application (to the applicant family or the individual applicant, respectively) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and between 2,500 euros and 7,000 euros per application in respect of costs and expenses.

[Source: Itar Tass, Strasbourg, 10Jan14]

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