Case of European Court of Human Rights, April 13, 2017 (case TAGAYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA)

Defense:RUSSIA
Resolution Date:April 13, 2017
SUMMARY

Remainder inadmissible (Article 35-3-a - Ratione personae);Violation of Article 2 - Right to life (Article 2 - Positive obligations;Article 2-1 - Life) (Substantive aspect);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 2 - Right to life (Article... (see full summary)

 
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FIRST SECTION

CASE OF TAGAYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA

(Application no. 26562/07 and 6 other applications – see list appended)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

13 April 2017

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

Table of Contents

PROCEDURE

THE FACTS

  1. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

    1. General information

    2. The events of 1 to 4 September 2004

      1. Situation prior to the hostage-taking on 1 September 2004

      2. Hostage-taking

      3. Events of 1 to 2 September 2004

      4. Storming and rescue operation

      5. Events of 4 September 2004, identification of bodies and burials

      6. Assuming responsibility for the terrorist act

    3. Criminal investigations

      1. Criminal investigation no. 20/849

      2. Criminal investigation in respect of Mr Nurpashi Kulayev

      3. Criminal proceedings against police officers

    4. Civil proceedings brought by the victims

      1. First group of claimants

      2. Second group of claimants

    5. Parliamentary inquiries

      1. Report prepared by the North Ossetian Parliament

      2. The Federal Assembly report

    6. Other relevant developments

      1. Humanitarian relief

      2. Other important public and media reactions

      3. Victims’ organisations

    7. Expert reports submitted by the applicants after the admissibility decision

      1. Expert report on counter-terrorism

      2. Expert report on medical (forensic) aspects of the operation

  2. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE

    1. Regulation of anti-terrorist operations and the use of force

      1. Suppression of Terrorism Act and Criminal Code

      2. Field Manuals

    2. Amnesty Act

  3. RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL LAW AND PRACTICE

    1. Use of force by law-enforcement officials

    2. International humanitarian law

    THE LAW

  4. PRELIMINARY ISSUES

  5. ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE 2 OF THE CONVENTION (ALL APPLICANTS)

    1. Article 2 - positive obligation to prevent threat to life

      1. The parties’ submissions

      2. The Court’s assessment

    2. Procedural obligation under Article 2 of the Convention

      1. The parties’ submissions

      2. The Court’s assessment

  6. ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE 2 OF THE CONVENTION (APPLICATIONS Nos. 26562/07, 49380/08, 21294/11, 37096/11 AND 14755/08)

    1. Planning and control of the operation

      1. The parties’ submissions

      2. The Court’s assessment

    2. Use of lethal force

      1. The parties’ submissions

      2. The Court’s assessment

  7. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 13 OF THE CONVENTION (ALL APPLICANTS)

    1. The parties’ submissions

      1. The applicants

      2. The Government

    2. The Court’s assessment

      1. General principles established in the Court’s case-law

      2. Application of the above principles in the present case

  8. APPLICATION OF ARTICLES 41 AND 46 OF THE CONVENTION

    1. Non-monetary measures

    2. Damage

      1. The first group of applicants

      2. The second group of applicants

      3. The Government

      4. The Court’s assessment

    3. Costs and expenses

      1. The first group of applicants

      2. The second group of applicants

      3. The Government

      4. The Court

    4. Default interest

      In the case of Tagayeva and Others v. Russia,

      The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

      Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, PresidentMirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,Khanlar Hajiyev,Julia Laffranque,Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque,Erik Møse,Dmitry Dedov, judges,and Abel Campos, Section Registrar,

      Having deliberated in private on 14 October 2014, 9 January 2017 and on 15 March 2017,

      Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the last‑mentioned date:

      PROCEDURE

      1. The case originated in seven applications (see Appendix for details) lodged between 25 June 2007 and 28 May 2011 against the Russian Federation with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by 447 Russian nationals. One group of applicants (“the first group of applicants”, applications nos. 26562/07, 49380/08, 21294/11 and 37096/11) were represented by Mr Kirill Koroteyev, a lawyer of EHRAC/Memorial Human Rights Centre, an NGO with offices in Moscow and London, assisted by Ms Jessica Gavron, advisor; and the remaining applicants (“the second group of applicants”, applications nos. 14755/08, 49339/08 and 51313/08) by Mr Sergey Knyazkin and Mr Mikhail Trepashkin, lawyers practising in Moscow. A complete and updated list of 409 applicants and their representatives is set out in the Appendix.

      2. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

      3. By a decision of 9 June 2015, following a hearing on admissibility and the merits (Rule 54 § 3), the Court declared the applications partly admissible. On the same date the Court decided that the applications should be joined pursuant to Rule 42 § 1 of the Rules of Court.

      4. The parties replied in writing to each other’s observations on the merits.

      THE FACTS

  9. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

    1. General information

      1. The applicants raised various issues related to the terrorist attack, siege and storming of school no. 1 in Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia, on 1 to 3 September 2004. Some applicants were held hostage and/or injured, while others had family members among those taken hostage, killed or injured. Information in respect of each applicant is summarised in the Appendix.

      2. While most events are relevant for all applicants, their position in the domestic proceedings somewhat differed. However, given the number of applicants, the extent of the domestic procedures and difficulties associated with establishing each applicant’s procedural role, the present judgment refers to them collectively as “the applicants”. This is based on the assumption that their position in the domestic proceedings was relatively similar, whether or not each of them participated in a given procedural step, either directly or through their representatives (see Abuyeva and Others v. Russia, no. 27065/05, § 181, 2 December 2010).

      3. The anti-terrorist operation mounted on 1-4 September 2004 involved a number of State agencies. The documents in the case file refer to the police, Internal Troops of the Ministry of the Interior, army servicemen of the Ministry of the Defence and officers of the Federal Security Service (Федеральная Служба Безопасности (ФСБ) – hereinafter “the FSB”). Unless otherwise specified, the terms “security personnel” or “security forces” used in the present judgment would apply to any of those State agents. Equally, the terms “anti-terrorist” or “security operation” are used to describe the operation of 1-4 September 2004.

      4. The voluminous material in the case files lodged by the applicants and submitted by the Government include documents from four criminal investigations, three criminal trials, two sets of civil proceedings for compensation, two reports by parliamentary groups and one dissenting opinion thereon, books and articles written in the aftermath, copies of forensic and expert reports in respect of each applicant and/or their relatives, the applicants’ own statements to the Court and independent expert reports. The statement of facts below is a succinct summary of the documents mentioned above and other publicly available information.

    2. The events of 1 to 4 September 2004

      1. Situation prior to the hostage-taking on 1 September 2004

        (a) Terrorist attacks in 2004

      2. The year 2004 saw a surge of terrorist acts in Russia involving numerous civilian victims. Mr Shamil Basayev, the underground leader of the Chechen separatist movement, either claimed responsibility or was held responsible for these acts.

      3. On 6 February 2004 a suicide bomber killed over forty people and wounded over 250 on an underground train in Moscow.

      4. In February and March 2004 several explosions in the Moscow Region damaged gas pipelines, a heating station and electricity pylons.

      5. On 9 May the President of Chechnya, Mr Akhmat Kadyrov, and several senior officials were killed by a bomb in a stadium in Grozny.

      6. On 21 and 22 June a large group of armed rebel fighters attacked Nazran, Ingushetia’s largest town. They primarily targeted police stations and other security offices; over ninety people were killed and an ammunition warehouse was looted.

      7. On 24 August two civilian aeroplanes which had departed from Moscow Domodedovo Airport simultaneously exploded in mid-air; ninety people lost their lives.

      8. On 31 August a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to an underground station in Moscow, killing ten and wounding about fifty others.

        (b) Evaluation of the terrorist threat in North Ossetia

      9. On 18 August 2004 the North Ossetian Ministry of the Interior issued the following telex (no. 1751) to all local departments of the interior:

        “[The North Ossetian Ministry of the Interior] has received information indicating the movement of participants of [illegal armed groups] from the plains of [Ingushetia] and [Chechnya] to the mountainous and forested area along the border of [Ingushetia] and [North Ossetia]. A meeting of the fighters is presumably planned for mid-August of this year, following which they are intending to commit a terrorist act in [North Ossetia] similar to that in Budennovsk. According to the available information, the fighters plan to capture a civilian object with hostages in the territory of [North Ossetia], and then submit demands to the country’s leadership for the withdrawal of troops from [Chechnya]. A large sum of money in [a foreign] currency has apparently been transferred from Turkey. [This information is being] transmitted in order for preventive measures to be taken.”

      10. On 27 August 2004 the North Ossetian Ministry of the Interior issued Decree no. 500 “About the protection of public order and security during the Day of Knowledge in the educational facilities of North Ossetia”, which was sent to all district police stations. The plan provided for heightened security awareness and an increase in the number of mobile posts and police officers near public gatherings, and contained a series of measures aimed at the prevention of...

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