Case of Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia

The country to which the judgment refers

Cyprus and Russia

Institution

European Court of Human Rights

Degree of importance

3

Language

English

Date

05.10.2010

Articles

05.10.2010

Keywords

(Art. 37) Deletion of petitions
(Art. 39) Achieving an amicable settlement
(Art. 39) Friendly settlement

Application number

(Art. 37) Deletion of petitions
(Art. 39) Achieving an amicable settlement
(Art. 39) Friendly settlement

Collections

Court practice
Judgment
The evening

Summary

PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (no. 25965/04) against the
Republic of Cyprus and the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under
Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national,
Mr Nikolay Mikhaylovich Rantsev (“the applicant”), on 26 May 2004.
2. The applicant, who had been granted legal aid, was represented by
Ms L. Churkina, a lawyer practising in Yekaterinburg. The Cypriot
Government were represented by their Agent, Mr P. Clerides, Attorney-
General of the Republic of Cyprus. The Russian Government were
represented by their Agent, Mr G. Matyushkin.
3. The applicant complained under Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 of the
Convention about the lack of sufficient investigation into the circumstances
of the death of his daughter, the lack of adequate protection of his daughter
by the Cypriot police while she was still alive and the failure of the Cypriot
authorities to take steps to punish those responsible for his daughter’s death
and ill-treatment. He also complained under Articles 2 and 4 about the
failure of the Russian authorities to investigate his daughter’s alleged
trafficking and subsequent death and to take steps to protect her from the
risk of trafficking. Finally, he complained under Article 6 of the Convention
about the inquest proceedings and an alleged lack of access to court in
Cyprus.
4. On 19 October 2007 the Cypriot and Russian Governments were
requested to submit the entire investigation file together with all
2 RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT
correspondence between the two Governments on this matter. On
17 December 2007 and 17 March 2008, the Cypriot and Russian
Governments respectively submitted a number of documents.
5. On 20 May 2008 the President of the First Section decided to accord
the case priority treatment in accordance with Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.
6. On 27 June 2008 the President of the First Section decided to give
notice of the application to each of the respondent Governments. It was also
decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its
admissibility (Article 29 § 3).
7. On 27 and 28 October 2008 respectively, the Cypriot and Russian
Governments submitted their written observations on the admissibility and
merits of the application. In addition, third-party comments were received
from two London-based non-governmental organisations, Interights and the
AIRE Centre, which had been given leave by the President to intervene in
the written procedure (Article 36 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 44 § 2).
8. On 12 December 2008, the President of the First Section decided that
legal aid should be granted to the applicant for his representation before the
Court.
9. On 16 December 2008 the applicant lodged written observations in
reply together with his claims for just satisfaction.
10. The Cypriot and Russian Governments lodged observations on the
applicant’s just satisfaction submissions.
11. By letter of 10 April 2009, the Cypriot Government requested the
Court to strike the case out of its list and enclosed the text of a unilateral
declaration with a view to resolving the issues raised by the applicant. The
applicant filed written observations on the Cypriot Government’s request on
21 May 2009.
12. The applicant requested an oral hearing but prior to adopting the
present judgment the Court decided that it was not necessary to hold one.

FIRST SECTION
CASE OF RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA
(Application no. 25965/04)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
7 January 2010
FINAL
10/05/2010
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the
Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT 1
In the case of Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a
Chamber composed of:
Christos Rozakis, President,
Anatoly Kovler,
Elisabeth Steiner,
Dean Spielmann,
Sverre Erik Jebens,
Giorgio Malinverni,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 10 December 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the
last-mentioned date:
PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (no. 25965/04) against the
Republic of Cyprus and the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under
Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national,
Mr Nikolay Mikhaylovich Rantsev (“the applicant”), on 26 May 2004.
2. The applicant, who had been granted legal aid, was represented by
Ms L. Churkina, a lawyer practising in Yekaterinburg. The Cypriot
Government were represented by their Agent, Mr P. Clerides, Attorney-
General of the Republic of Cyprus. The Russian Government were
represented by their Agent, Mr G. Matyushkin.
3. The applicant complained under Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 of the
Convention about the lack of sufficient investigation into the circumstances
of the death of his daughter, the lack of adequate protection of his daughter
by the Cypriot police while she was still alive and the failure of the Cypriot
authorities to take steps to punish those responsible for his daughter’s death
and ill-treatment. He also complained under Articles 2 and 4 about the
failure of the Russian authorities to investigate his daughter’s alleged
trafficking and subsequent death and to take steps to protect her from the
risk of trafficking. Finally, he complained under Article 6 of the Convention
about the inquest proceedings and an alleged lack of access to court in
Cyprus.
4. On 19 October 2007 the Cypriot and Russian Governments were
requested to submit the entire investigation file together with all
2 RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT
correspondence between the two Governments on this matter. On
17 December 2007 and 17 March 2008, the Cypriot and Russian
Governments respectively submitted a number of documents.
5. On 20 May 2008 the President of the First Section decided to accord
the case priority treatment in accordance with Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.
6. On 27 June 2008 the President of the First Section decided to give
notice of the application to each of the respondent Governments. It was also
decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its
admissibility (Article 29 § 3).
7. On 27 and 28 October 2008 respectively, the Cypriot and Russian
Governments submitted their written observations on the admissibility and
merits of the application. In addition, third-party comments were received
from two London-based non-governmental organisations, Interights and the
AIRE Centre, which had been given leave by the President to intervene in
the written procedure (Article 36 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 44 § 2).
8. On 12 December 2008, the President of the First Section decided that
legal aid should be granted to the applicant for his representation before the
Court.
9. On 16 December 2008 the applicant lodged written observations in
reply together with his claims for just satisfaction.
10. The Cypriot and Russian Governments lodged observations on the
applicant’s just satisfaction submissions.
11. By letter of 10 April 2009, the Cypriot Government requested the
Court to strike the case out of its list and enclosed the text of a unilateral
declaration with a view to resolving the issues raised by the applicant. The
applicant filed written observations on the Cypriot Government’s request on
21 May 2009.
12. The applicant requested an oral hearing but prior to adopting the
present judgment the Court decided that it was not necessary to hold one.
THE FACTS
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
13. The applicant, Mr Nikolay Mikhaylovich Rantsev, is a Russian
national who was born in 1938 and lives in Svetlogorsk, Russia. He is the
father of Ms Oxana Rantseva, also a Russian national, born in 1980.
14. The facts of the case, as established by the submissions of the parties
and the material submitted by them, in particular the witness statements
taken by the Cypriot police, may be summarised as follows.
RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT 3
A. The background facts
15. Oxana Rantseva arrived in Cyprus on 5 March 2001. On 13 February
2001, X.A., the owner of a cabaret in Limassol, had applied for an “artiste”
visa and work permit for Ms Rantseva to allow her to work as an artiste in
his cabaret (see further paragraph 115 below). The application was
accompanied by a copy of Ms Rantseva’s passport, a medical certificate, a
copy of an employment contract (apparently not yet signed by Ms Rantseva)
and a bond, signed by [X.A.] Agencies, in the following terms (original in
English):
“KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS that I [X.A.] of L/SSOL Am bound to
the Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Cyprus in the sum of £150 to be paid to
the said Minister of the Interior or other the [sic] Minister of Interior for the time
being or his attorney or attorneys.
Sealed with my seal.
Dated the 13th day of February 2001
WHEREAS Ms Oxana RANTSEVA of RUSSIA
Hereinafter called the immigrant, (which expression shall where the context so
admits be deemed to include his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns) is
entering Cyprus and I have undertaken that the immigrant shall not become in need of
relief in Cyprus during a period of five years from the date hereof and I have
undertaken to replay [sic] to the Republic of Cyprus any sum which the Republic of
Cyprus may pay for the relief or support of the immigrant (the necessity for which
relief and support the Minister shall be the sole judge) or for the axpenses [sic] of
repatriating the immigrant from Cyprus within a period of five years from the date
hereof.
NOW THE CONDITION OF THE ABOVE WRITTEN BOND is such that if the
immigrant or myself, my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns shall repay to
the Republic of Cyprus on demand any sum which the Republic of Cyprus may have
paid as aforesaid for the relief or Support of the immigrant or for the expenses of
repatriation of the immigrant from Cyprus then the above written bond shall be void
but otherwise shall remain in full force.”
16. Ms Rantseva was granted a temporary residence permit as a visitor
until 9 March 2001. She stayed in an apartment with other young women
working in X.A.’s cabaret. On 12 March 2001 she was granted a permit to
work until 8 June 2001 as an artiste in a cabaret owned by X.A. and
managed by his brother, M.A. She began work on 16 March 2001.
17. On 19 March 2001, at around 11a.m., M.A. was informed by the
other women living with Ms Rantseva that she had left the apartment and
taken all her belongings with her. The women told him that she had left a
note in Russian saying that she was tired and wanted to return to Russia. On
the same date M.A. informed the Immigration Office in Limassol that
Ms Rantseva had abandoned her place of work and residence. According to
4 RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT
M.A.’s subsequent witness statement, he wanted Ms Rantseva to be arrested
and expelled from Cyprus so that he could bring another girl to work in the
cabaret. However, Ms Rantseva’s name was not entered on the list of
persons wanted by the police.
B. The events of 28 March 2001
18. On 28 March 2001, at around 4 a.m., Ms Rantseva was seen in a
discotheque in Limassol by another cabaret artiste. Upon being advised by
the cabaret artiste that Ms Rantseva was in the discotheque, M.A. called the
police and asked them to arrest her. He then went to the discotheque
together with a security guard from his cabaret. An employee of the
discotheque brought Ms Rantseva to him. In his subsequent witness
statement, M.A. said (translation):
“When [Ms Rantseva] got in to my car, she did not complain at all or do anything
else. She looked drunk and I just told her to come with me. Because of the fact that
she looked drunk, we didn’t have a conversation and she didn’t talk to me at all.”
19. M.A. took Ms Rantseva to Limassol Central Police Station, where
two police officers were on duty. He made a brief statement in which he set
out the circumstances of Ms Rantseva’s arrival in Cyprus, her employment
and her subsequent disappearance from the apartment on 19 March 2001.
According to the statement of the police officer in charge when they arrived
(translation):
“On 28 March 2001, slightly before 4a.m., [M.A.] found [Ms Rantseva] in the
nightclub Titanic … he took her and led her to the police station stating that
Ms Rantseva was illegal and that we should place her in the cells. He ([M.A.]) then
left the place (police station).”
20. The police officers then contacted the duty passport officer at his
home and asked him to look into whether Ms Rantseva was illegal. After
investigating, he advised them that her name was not in the database of
wanted persons. He further advised that there was no record of M.A.’s
complaint of 19 March 2001 and that, in any case, a person did not become
illegal until 15 days after a complaint was made. The passport officer
contacted the person in charge of the AIS (Police Aliens and Immigration
Service), who gave instructions that Ms Rantseva was not to be detained
and that her employer, who was responsible for her, was to pick her up and
take her to their Limassol Office for further investigation at 7 a.m. that day.
The police officers contacted M.A. to ask him to collect Ms Rantseva. M.A.
was upset that the police would not detain her and refused to come and
collect her. The police officers told him that their instructions were that if he
did not take her they were to allow her to leave. M.A. became angry and
asked to speak to their superior. The police officers provided a telephone
number to M.A. The officers were subsequently advised by their superior
RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT 5
that M.A. would come and collect Ms Rantseva. Both officers, in their
witness statements, said that Ms Rantseva did not appear drunk. The officer
in charge said (translation):
“Ms Rantseva remained with us … She was applying her make-up and did not look
drunk … At around 5.20a.m. … I was … informed that [M.A.] had come and picked her
up…”
21. According to M.A.’s witness statement, when he collected
Ms Rantseva from the police station, he also collected her passport and the
other documents which he had handed to the police when they had arrived.
He then took Ms Rantseva to the apartment of M.P., a male employee at his
cabaret. The apartment M.P. lived in with his wife, D.P., was a split-level
apartment with the entrance located on the fifth floor of a block of flats.
According to M.A., they placed Ms Rantseva in a room on the second floor
of the apartment. In his police statement, he said:
“She just looked drunk and did not seem to have any intention to do anything. I did
not do anything to prevent her from leaving the room in [the] flat where I had taken
her.”
22. M.A. said that M.P. and his wife went to sleep in their bedroom on
the second floor and that he stayed in the living room of the apartment
where he fell asleep. The apartment was arranged in such a way that in
order to leave the apartment by the front door, it would be necessary to pass
through the living room.
23. M.P. stated that he left his work at the cabaret “Zygos” in Limassol
at around 3.30 a.m. and went to the “Titanic” discotheque for a drink. Upon
his arrival there he was informed that the girl they had been looking for, of
Russian origin, was in the discotheque. Then M.A. arrived, accompanied by
a security guard from the cabaret, and asked the employees of “Titanic” to
bring the girl to the entrance. M.A., Ms Rantseva and the security guard
then all got into M.A.’s car and left. At around 4.30 a.m. M.P. returned to
his house and went to sleep. At around 6 a.m. his wife woke him up and
informed him that M.A. had arrived together with Ms Rantseva and that
they would stay until the Immigration Office opened. He then fell asleep.
24. D.P. stated that M.A. brought Ms Rantseva to the apartment at
around 5.45 a.m.. She made coffee and M.A. spoke with her husband in the
living room. M.A. then asked D.P. to provide Ms Rantseva with a bedroom
so that she could get some rest. D.P. stated that Ms Rantseva looked drunk
and did not want to drink or eat anything. According to D.P., she and her
husband went to sleep at around 6 a.m. while M.A. stayed in the living
room. Having made her statement, D.P. revised her initial description of
events, now asserting that her husband had been asleep when M.A. arrived
at their apartment with Ms Rantseva. She stated that she had been scared to
admit that she had opened the door of the apartment on her own and had had
coffee with M.A..
6 RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA JUDGMENT
25. At around 6.30 a.m. on 28 March 2001, Ms Rantseva was found
dead on the street below the apartment. Her handbag was over her shoulder.
The police found a bedspread looped through the railing of the smaller
balcony adjoining the room in which Ms Rantseva had been staying on the
upper floor of the apartment, below which the larger balcony on the fifth
floor was located.
26. M.A. claimed that he woke at 7 a.m. in order to take Ms Rantseva to
the Immigration Office. He called to D.P. and M.P. and heard D.P. saying
that the police were in the street in front of the apartment building. They
looked in the bedroom but Ms Rantseva was not there. They looked out
from the balcony and saw a body in the street. He later discovered that it
was Ms Rantseva.
27. D.P. claimed that she was woken by M.A. knocking on her door to
tell her that Ms Rantseva was not in her room and that they should look for
her. She looked for her all over the apartment and then noticed that the
balcony door in the bedroom was open. She went out onto the balcony and
saw the bedspread and realised what Ms Rantseva had done. She went onto
another balcony and saw a body lying on the street, covered by a white
sheet and surrounded by police officers.
28. M.P. stated that he was woken up by noise at around 7 a.m. and saw
his wife in a state of shock; she told him that Ms Rantseva had fallen from
the balcony. He went into the living room where he saw M.A. and some
police officers.
29. In his testimony of 28 March 2001, G.A. stated that on 28 March
2001, around 6.30 a.m., he was smoking on his balcony, located on the first
floor of M.P. and D.P.’s building. He said:
“I saw something resembling a shadow fall from above and pass directly in front of
me. Immediately afterwards I heard a noise like something was breaking … I told my
wife to call the police … I had heard nothing before the fall and immediately
afterwards I did not hear any voices. She did not scream during the fall. She just fell
as if she were unconscious … Even if there had been a fight (in the apartment on the
fifth floor) I would not have been able to hear it.”