European Court of Human Rights declares applications by victims of the Beslan terrorist attack admissible

posted 13 Jul 2015, 10:08 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 13 Jul 2015, 10:11 ]
6 July 2005

Source: (info)
On 2 July 2015 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that seven appeals brought by 447 victims of the hostage-taking which took place at Beslan’s School No. 1 in September 2004 were admissible. The applications were lodged with the ECtHR between 2007 and 2011 and subsequently consolidated into a single case (Tagayeva and Others v Russia).

The ECtHR held a hearing on the case on 14 October 2014, at which some of the victims were represented by Kirill Koroteyev and other lawyers from the Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Centre and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC, London).

The ECtHR found that the majority of the appeals brought against infringement of the right to life and the right to an effective remedy were admissible. It will therefore proceed to examine their merits and issue a separate judgment in this regard.

"This is a highly significant ruling, and I view it as a key milestone in the appeal proceedings. The parties will now be able to submit new arguments and demands for fair compensation, after which the Court will issue a ruling on the merits of the case,” said the lawyer Kirill Koroteyev to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

According to the lawyer, as quoted by the Kommersant newspaper, "The applicants did not initially demand compensation for material and moral damages. Now that the appeals have been found admissible, these demands will be lodged and the harm suffered in connection with the relevant infringements will need to be assessed.”

The applicants believe that the authorities did not fulfil their obligation to protect the hostages’ right to life. In particular, they believe that the following infringements were committed:

The security agencies had received information regarding a planned terrorist attack, but failed to take adequate measures to protect the civilian population.

The federal security forces had warned the regional authorities about the risk of a terrorist attack and entrusted the local police with taking preventive measures. On the basis of the information available at the time, however, the federal security forces should also have taken action to avert the risk.

The authorities had failed to put adequate safety measures in place on Beslan’s roads.

The safety procedures followed at School No. 1 were inadequate.

The operation to release the hostages was not planned properly. There was no clear coordination between the operational headquarters and the other agencies involved during the operation. Some of the risks to which the hostages were exposed were not taken into account, and some of the weapons used posed excessive risks.

There was no effective investigation into the events surrounding the hostage-taking, and the exact cause and circumstances of death of a number of hostages have never been properly established. None of the guilty parties has been held accountable for their actions, and the applicants have found it difficult to gain access to the case materials.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds