Week-ending 2 October 2020
This week there were two judgments of the European Court of Human Rights concerning Russia, dealing with Article 8 and Article 6. Russia also responded to the Court in the case of Movsar Umarov.
Fatkhutdinov v. Russia, 29 September 2020
Article 8: Right to respect for private and family life
The court found a violation of Article 8 of the Convention; the respondent State is to pay the applicant EUR 6,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage; and EUR 585 in respect of costs and expenses.
Balashova and Cherevichnaya v. Russia, 29 September 2020
Article 6: Right to a fair trial
The court found a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of non-enforcement of the judgment of 16 December 2002; the respondent State is to pay the applicants the outstanding amounts due to them under the judgment of 16 December 2002; the respondent State is to pay the applicants EUR 3,500 to each applicant in respect of non‑pecuniary damage; EUR 450 jointly to both applicants in respect of costs and expenses.
There were also developments in the case of Movsar Umarov, as reported by Caucasian Knot on Wednesday, 30 September 2020:
In response to questions from the European Court of Human Rights, Russia declared that Movsar Umarov was not taken to offices of the law enforcement bodies in Chechnya and was not subjected to ill-treatment by law enforcers. Human rights defenders consider the above explanations unconvincing. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) considers the issue of special security measures for Movsar Umarov, a resident of Chechnya, whose escape during a special operation was announced by the law enforcement bodies. The ECtHR asked the Russian authorities questions about whether Movsar Umarov was detained and on what grounds, and where he stayed at the moment. On September 25, Mikhail Galperin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, announced that Movsar Umarov was not detained by Chechen law enforcers and was not taken to offices of any law enforcement bodies. According to the statement voiced by Mr Galperin, Movsar Umarov was not subjected to ill-treatment by the authorities. The “Committee against Torture” (CaT) did not agree with Mr Galperin.
On Thursday, 1 October 2020, Human Rights Watch published a commentary on Thursday, 1 October 2020 in relation to Kotilainen and Others v. Finland that concerns a mass shooting at a vocational institution and has important parallels and differences with the Beslan case that took place in Russia in 2004:
The European Court of Human Rights found on 19 September that Finland violated its positive duty to protect the right to life of nine students and a teacher in a mass shooting at their vocational institute. It is only the second time that the court has dealt with a deadly violent incident at an education institution, but it should have influence even beyond Europe. The court ruled that by not confiscating the attacker’s semi-automatic pistol after he made internet postings that cast doubts on his suitability to safely possess a weapon, Finnish police failed to observe a special duty of diligence incumbent on authorities. Such a duty existed, the court said, because of the particularly high risk to life inherent in any misconduct involving firearms. It is impossible to read the European court’s decision without thinking of the United States, where school shootings are far more common than in Europe. The court acknowledged that the information available to the local police before the shooting did not give rise to any reason to suspect a risk of an attack in the form of a school shooting. In this way, the court distinguished between this school shooting and the tragedy at School No. 1 in Beslan, Russia, in 2004, in which more than 330 civilian hostages, including over 180 children, lost their lives. In a case brought by some of the victims’ families in the Beslan incident, the court found the Russian authorities indeed had sufficiently specific information about a terrorist attack against schools in the area planned for the first day of the academic year. The court found Russia responsible for violations of the right to life because it could be reasonably expected of a government under such circumstances to deploy preventive and protective measures for schools. While certain security measures had been taken, the court characterized them as inadequate. The security arrangements at Beslan’s School No. 1 were not reinforced. The police failed to take sufficient measures to reduce the risks. No warning was given to the school administration. And no single sufficiently high-level entity was designated to handle the situation.