Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 182
Razzakov v. Russia - 57519/09
Judgment 5.2.2015 [Section I] See:  ECHR 126
victim status upheld
Facts - In 2009 the applicant was held in police custody for three days and subjected to severe ill-treatment in order to make him confess to a murder. No criminal proceedings were ever brought against him. After initially refusing to investigate the applicant’s complaint of ill-treatment, the authorities eventually opened criminal proceedings, but these did not lead to the identification of those responsible. In parallel civil proceedings the applicant was awarded damages.
Law - Article 34: The Court praised the fact that the domestic civil court had duly examined the applicant’s case, established the State’s liability for his ill-treatment and awarded him compensation for the damage suffered as a result of his unlawful detention and ill-treatment. However, the Court recalled that in cases of wilful ill-treatment by State agents, a breach of Article 3 could not be remedied only by an award of compensation to the victim. If the authorities could confine their reaction to incidents of this kind to the mere payment of compensation, while not doing enough to prosecute and punish those responsible, it would be possible for State agents to abuse the rights of those within their control with virtual impunity. This would render the general legal prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment ineffective in practice. Thus, in the present case the applicant could still claim to be a victim of a violation of Article 3 in respect of his alleged ill treatment.
Conclusion: victim status upheld (unanimously).
(a) Substantive aspect - In view of the State’s acknowledgment of a violation of Article 3 and the domestic authorities’ decisions in the criminal and civil proceedings, the Court found the applicant’s allegations as to what happened established. During his arbitrary detention the applicant had been subjected to a sequence of abhorrent acts of physical and psychological violence for a prolonged period. The police officers had acted intentionally with the aim of making the applicant, who was in a very vulnerable position and had a limited command of Russian, confess to a murder. Thus, the treatment to which the applicant had been subjected amounted to torture.
Conclusion: violation (unanimously).
(b) Procedural aspect - The respondent State had acknowledged the lack of an effective official investigation into the applicant’s credible allegation of ill-treatment. Noting that the investigative authority had opened a criminal case only five months after the alleged ill-treatment had been brought to its attention, the Court reiterated that in cases of credible allegations of treatment proscribed under Article 3 a “pre-investigation inquiry” alone was not capable of meeting the requirements of an effective investigation under that provision. Indeed, the mere fact of the investigative authority’s refusal to open a criminal investigation into credible allegations of serious ill-treatment in police custody was indicative of the State’s failure to comply with its obligation to conduct an effective investigation. Moreover, although the evidence collected during the preliminary investigation had been considered sufficient for the civil court to establish the State’s liability for the acts of the police officers and for awarding compensation to the applicant, the investigative committee had considered that evidence insufficient to mount a prosecution. In this regard, the material in the case file actually showed that the investigation’s conclusions had not been based on a thorough, objective and impartial analysis of all relevant elements. In the light of these considerations, the Court concluded that the domestic authorities had failed to conduct an effective investigation into the applicant’s allegations of ill-treatment in police custody.
Conclusion: violation (unanimously).
Article 41: EUR 20,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
The Court also found that the applicant could not claim to be a victim of a violation of Article 5 as the compensation awarded in domestic proceedings had offered him appropriate and sufficient redress.
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This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court.
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