ECtHR decision in Zokhidov v. Russia (no. 67286/10) [Articles 3, 5, 13 and 34 ECHR]

Friday, October 4, 2013

The applicant is an Uzbek national who was arrested in Russia in July 2010 and detained with a view to his extradition to Uzbekistan, where he was wanted on charges of public appeals to overthrow the constitutional order in connection with his presumed membership of the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir religious organisation. The Uzbek extradition request was accepted by the Russian authorities. However, the decision to extradite him was quashed by the Supreme Court and Mr. Zokhidov was released in April 2011. In November 2010, the ECtHR granted him an interim measure under Rule 39 according to which the Russian authorities should have refrained from extraditing him until further notice. An asylum application that Mr. Zokhidov had presented two months after his arrest was dismissed in November 2011. The next month he was extradited to Uzbekistan in spite of the ECtHR's interim measure. In Uzbekistan he was convicted as charged and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment in April 2012. At the time of the Court's judgment, he is in prison in Uzbekistan.

The Court found a violation of Article 3. The Russian authorities, in particular the courts dealing with his extradition order and the asylum authorities, had not carried out a thorough examination of his allegations concerning the risk of ill-treatment in Uzbekistan. The Court further noted that Mr. Zokhidov belonged to a group in respect of which reliable sources confirmed a continuing pattern of ill-treatment and torture by the Uzbek authorities. Moreover, the proceedings against him had been instituted in the aftermath of a wave of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of people suspected of involvement with Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The Court considered that there were substantial grounds to believe that the applicant would face a real risk of ill-treatment if extradited and that, in this respect, the assurances given by the Uzbek government to the Russian authorities had been insufficient. Allegations on Article 13 relied on the same arguments and the Court did not assess them independently. Violations of Articles 5 and 34 were also declared. With respect to the latter, the Court held that Mr. Zokhidov's removal to Uzbekistan had breached the interim measure granted and had removed him from Convention protection. As the Russian authorities could not have possibly ignored the existence of said measure, they had infringed Mr. Zokhidov's right of individual application to the ECtHR.

The Court ordered the payment of just satisfaction for the value of 41.000 euros.

The full text of the judgmentand the press release are available at the ECtHR's website.

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Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
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