Case of Bryan and Others v. Russia (Application no. 22515/14)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgment.


73. The Court reiterates that that the unacknowledged detention of an individual is a complete negation of Article 5 guarantees and a most grave violation of that provision. Having assumed control over an individual, the authorities have a duty to account for his or her whereabouts (see El-Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [GC], no. 39630/09, § 233, ECHR 2012, and Belozorov v. Russia and Ukraine, no. 43611/02, § 113, 15 October 2015). In the circumstances of the present case, where no relevant holding data (such as the date, time and location of detention, the name of the detainees, the reasons for the detention and the name of the person effecting it) were recorded and where, moreover, the boarding, seizure and detention of the Arctic Sunrise on 19 September 2013 was found to have been in breach of the provisions of international law by another international tribunal (see paragraph 29 above), the detention of the applicants must be seen as incompatible with the very purpose of Article 5 of the Convention. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 5 of the Convention in respect of the applicants’ detention before 24 September 2013.

77. […] On 24 October 2013, a month into the pre-trial detention of the applicants, the investigator admitted that the Prirazlomnaya was not a vessel but a port facility, which precluded criminal liability for piracy (see paragraph 20 above). In the Court’s opinion, these circumstances indicate that the positions of various domestic authorities concerning the status of the Prirazlomnaya were inconsistent and mutually exclusive and that this had caused confusion as to the proper interpretation of Article 227 of the Criminal Code. The Court reiterates that detention will be “arbitrary” where despite complying with the letter of national law, there has been an element of bad faith or deception on the part of the authorities or where the domestic authorities neglected to attempt to apply the relevant legislation correctly (see Yaroshovets and Others v. Ukraine, nos. 74820/10 and 4 others, § 141, 3 December 2015, and James, Wells and Lee v. the United Kingdom, nos. 25119/09 and 2 others, §§ 191-92, 18 September 2012). Furthermore, it appears from the case material that after the criminal charges against the applicants were reclassified as hooliganism, the new legal grounds for their continuing detention were not reviewed by the domestic courts (see paragraph 21 above) and the applicants continued to be detained until their release on bail in accordance with the original order for pre-trial detention, which was based on the piracy charges that had been dropped by the investigator. In those circumstances, it is difficult to classify this detention other than arbitrary. The Court holds, accordingly, that the applicants’ detention after 24 September 2013 and until their release was not lawful within the meaning of Article 5 § 1 (c) of the Convention.


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