készíti: Gellért Ádám
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“The only necessary for "evil" to triumph is for a few good men to do nothing”

2012. április 18., szerda

A katyńi tömeggyilkosság és az orosz állam a strasbourgi bíróság előtt

Két nappal ezelőtt a strasbourgi emberi jogi bíróság ötös szekciója kemény hangú ítéletben marasztalta el az orosz államot (Janowiec and others v. Russia, Applications nos. 55508/07 and 29520/09, 16 April 2012).

159. The Court is struck by the apparent reluctance of the Russian authorities to recognise the reality of the Katyn massacre, to which the applicants’ relatives had fallen victims.

160. […] the Russian prosecutors consistently rejected the applicants’ requests for rehabilitation of their relatives, claiming that, owing to the disappearance of relevant files, it was not possible to determine the specific legal basis for the repression against Polish prisoners. The courts examining the applicants’ appeals against the prosecutor’s refusals reiterated, yet again, that there was no reason to assume that the Polish prisoners had actually been killed. These findings made in the rehabilitation proceedings not only distorted the established historical facts but also were mutually exclusive, for it could not be reasonably maintained at the same time that the Polish prisoners had been the victims of the repression, albeit on an unclear legal basis, and that they had not been murdered at all. In addition, the prosecutors’ reference to the missing criminal files in respect of Polish prisoners was in stark contradiction to the explicit terms of the Poliburo’s decision of 5 March 1940, according to which the cases of Polish prisoners were to be decided “without bringing any charges, with no statement concluding the investigation and no bill of indictment”. In sum, the Court finds it hard to disagree with the applicants’ argument that a denial of the reality of the mass murder reinforced by the implied proposition that Polish prisoners may have had a criminal charge to answer and had been duly sentenced to capital punishment demonstrated the attitude vis-à-vis the applicants that was not just opprobrious but also lacking in humanity.

161. On 26 November 2010 the Russian Duma adopted a statement on the Katyn tragedy and its victims, in which it recognised that the Polish prisoners-of-war had been shot dead and that their death on the USSR territory had been “an arbitrary act by the totalitarian State”. It also considered necessary “to continue studying the archives, verifying the lists of victims, restoring the good names of those who perished in Katyn and other places, and uncovering the circumstances of the tragedy”. However, the declaration did not lead to a re-opening of the investigation, declassification of its materials, including the decision on its discontinuation, or any attempts on the part of the Russian authorities to establish direct contacts with the victims of the Katyn massacre and involve them into the elucidation of its circumstances. Being a mere political declaration without any visible follow-up, it did little to alleviate the feeling of frustration, since the previously made allegations that the applicants’ relatives might have been criminally responsible, were not explicitly dismissed. The Court is struck by the Russian authorities’ continued complacency in the face of the applicants’ anguish and distress, especially as they are becoming more and more fragile by virtue of their age.

163. The scope of the State’s obligation under Article 3 is significantly larger than an acknowledgement of the fact of death. […]

164. In conclusion, the applicants suffered a long ordeal during the entire post-war Communist era in which political factors put insurmountable obstacles to their quest for information. The institution of Katyn proceedings gave them a spark of hope in the early 1990s but it was gradually extinguished, in the post-ratification period, when the applicants were confronted with the attitude of official denial and indifference in face of their acute anxiety to know the circumstances of the death of their close family members and their burial sites. They were excluded from the proceedings on the pretence of their foreign nationality and barred from studying the materials that had been collected. They received curt and uninformative replies from Russian authorities and the findings that had been made in the judicial proceedings were not only contradictory and ambiguous but also contrary to the historic facts which, nonetheless, were officially acknowledged at the highest political level. The Russian authorities did not provide the applicants with any official information about the circumstances surrounding the death of their relatives or made any earnest attempts to locate their burial sites.

165. […] By acknowledging that the applicants’ relatives had been held prisoners in the Soviet camps but declaring that their subsequent fate could not be elucidated, the Russian courts denied the reality of summary executions that had been carried out in the Katyn forest and at other mass murder sites. The Court considers that such approach chosen by the Russian authorities has been contrary to the fundamental values of the Convention and must have exacerbated the applicants’ suffering.

166. In sum, the Court finds that the applicants were left to bear the brunt of the efforts to uncover any facts relating to the manner in which their relatives died, whereas the Russian authorities demonstrated a flagrant, continuous and callous disregard for their concerns and anxieties. The Court therefore considers that the manner in which the applicants’ enquiries have been dealt with by the Russian authorities has attained the minimum level of severity to be considered inhuman treatment within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.

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