Case of N.A. and Others v. Russia (Applications nos. 48523/19 and 4 others – see appended list)

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


73.  In view of the foregoing and considering the absence of any submissions by the Government in applications nos. 13837/20and 40452/20, and also keeping in mind the systemic nature of the persistent problem of the ineffectiveness of investigations in Chechnya in respect of allegations of abductions perpetrated by State agents (see paragraph 67 above), the Court finds that the investigation into the disappearance of the applicants’ relatives, Mr T.M., Mr Kh.Kh., Mr Sh.Yu., Mr M.S., Mr Aliyev and Mr Umarov, was ineffective.

76.  The Court observes that the Government’s assertion that the applicants’ missing relatives in applications nos. 48523/1949533/19and 49902/20had voluntarily left for Syria is not substantiated by any evidence (see, for the same situation, A. and Others v. Russia, cited above, § 63) and no explanations were given by the Government as to the disappearance of the applicants’ relatives in applications nos. 13837/20 and 40452/20. Taking into account detailed and consistent submissions by the applicants and other relevant material (ibid, §§ 63-64), the Court is satisfied that the applicants in all the applications have made a prima facie case that their relatives were abducted by State agents and have been missing since then, as alleged by the applicants. Following its findings in a number of cases where similar detention by State agents was regarded as life-threatening (for recent examples, see S.A. and Others v. Russia [Committee], no. 2297/15, § 63, 14 January 2020; A.A. and Others v. Russia, cited above, § 65; and Gasanova and Others, cited above, §§ 8-10), the Court finds that the lack of information concerning the fate of Mr T.M., Mr Kh.Kh., Mr Sh.Yu., Mr M.S., Mr Aliyev and Mr Umarov several years after their disappearance supports this assumption. Accordingly, the evidence available permits the Court to establish to the requisite standard of proof that they must be presumed dead following their unacknowledged detention by State agents.

86. Considering that the Government failed to put forward any plausible explanations as to the origins of the burn injury received by Movsar Umarov after this arrest, and taking into account the circumstances of his unacknowledged detention (see also paragraph 94 below), the Court considers that the evidence before it enables it to find beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Umarov was ill-treated while in the hands of State agents (see, for example, Khambulatova v. Russia, no. 33488/04, §§ 108-09, 3 March 2011).

87. It follows that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention under its substantive limb in that the applicant’s brother Movsar Umarov was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of this provision.

88. As to the complaint regarding the authorities’ failure to duly investigate the ill-treatment of Movsar Umarov, for the reasons stated above in paragraph 73 in relation to the procedural obligation under Article 2 of the Convention, the Court concludes that the Government have failed to conduct an effective investigation into Mr Umarov’s ill-treatment (see Gelayevy v. Russia, no. 20216/07, § 131, 15 July 2010).

89. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 3 under its procedural limb.

90. 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 on account of the distress and anguish that they suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of their inability to ascertain the fate of their missing family members and of the manner in which their complaints have been dealt with (see Adzhigitova and Others v. Russia, no. 2593/08, § 227, 22 June 2021; Aslakhanova and Others, cited above, §§ 131-33, 18 December 2012; and A.A. and Others v. Russia, cited above, § 69). It therefore finds a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on that account in respect of the applicants.

94. The Court confirms that since it has been established that Mr T.M., Mr Kh.Kh., Mr Sh.Yu., Mr M.S., Mr Aliyev and Mr Umarov 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, and A.A. and Others v. Russia, cited above, § 70). The Court accordingly finds a violation of that Article in respect of the applicants’ missing relatives.

95. The Court further finds that the applicants did not have an effective domestic remedy at their disposal for their grievances under Article 2 of the Convention, in breach of Article 13 of the Convention (see Aslakhanova and Others, cited above, § 157).


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