Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Georgia (Application no. 50375/07)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

80. The obligation to carry out an effective investigation into unlawful or suspicious deaths is well-established in the Court’s case-law. When considering the requirements flowing from the obligation, it must be remembered that the essential purpose of such an investigation is to secure the effective implementation of the domestic laws which protect the right to life and, in those cases involving State agents or bodies, to ensure their accountability for deaths occurring under their responsibility. Even where there may be obstacles or difficulties which prevent progress in an investigation in a particular situation, a prompt response by the authorities is vital in maintaining public confidence in their adherence to the rule of law and in preventing any appearance of collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts (see Brecknell v. the United Kingdom, no. 32457/04, § 65, 27 November 2007, with further references).

81. In order to comply with the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention, the investigation must be effective in the sense that it is capable of leading to the establishment of the relevant facts and to the identification and punishment of those responsible. This is not an obligation of result, but of means. The authorities must have taken the reasonable steps available to them to secure the evidence concerning the incident, including, inter alia, eyewitness testimony, forensic evidence and, where appropriate, an autopsy which provides a complete and accurate record of injury and an objective analysis of clinical findings, including the cause of death. The requirements of promptness and reasonable expedition are implicit in this context (see Ramsahai and Others v. the Netherlands [GC], no. 52391/99, § 324, ECHR 2007‑II; Anguelova v. Bulgaria, no. 38361/97, § 139, ECHR 2002‑IV; and Šilih v. Slovenia [GC], no. 71463/01, § 195, 9 April 2009).

82. The persons responsible for an investigation should be independent of anyone implicated or likely to be implicated in the events. This means not only a lack of hierarchical or institutional connection but also practical independence (see Aliyev and Gadzhiyeva v. Russia, no. 11059/12, § 96, 12 July 2016). Moreover, an investigation must be accessible to the victim’s family to the extent necessary to safeguard their legitimate interests. There must also be a sufficient element of public scrutiny of the investigation, the degree of which may vary from case to case (see, for example, Hugh Jordan v. the United Kingdom, no. 24746/94, § 109, 4 May 2001). Furthermore, the investigation’s conclusions must be based on thorough, objective and impartial analysis of all relevant elements. Failing to follow an obvious line of enquiry undermines to a decisive extent the investigation’s ability to establish the circumstances of the case and, where appropriate, the identity of those responsible (see Mustafa Tunç and Fecire Tunç, cited above, § 175).

85. While identification and punishment of those responsible for the death and the availability of compensatory remedies to the applicant are important criteria in the assessment of whether or not the State has discharged its Article 2 obligation (see, among other authorities, Fedina v. Ukraine, no. 17185/02, §§ 66-67, 2 September 2010), in already a significant number of cases brought before the Court the finding of a violation was largely based on the existence of unreasonable delays and a lack of diligence on the authorities’ part in conducting the proceedings, regardless of their final outcome (see, for example, Merkulova v. Ukraine, no. 21454/04, § 51, 3 March 2011, with further references).


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