Russia: Denial of compensation violates right to compensation for victims of unlawful detention


The Human Rights Committee found Russia in violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in connection with its decision to deny an individual compensation for unlawful detention.


Yusupova v. Russian Federation (2036/2011)

In July 2015, the Human Rights Committee was asked to consider whether Russia had violated its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in connection with its decision to deny an individual compensation for unlawful detention.

The communication was submitted by a Russian national under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant.


In 1944, the author, Zinaida Yusupova, and her parents were forcibly removed from their home city and deported to Kazakhstan. As a result, the author’s family lost their property and were subject to forced internment for 13 years.

On 16 May 2005, the author received a certificate from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya, confirming that she had been a victim of political repression.

The author filed a request with the Kirov district administration for the payment of a monthly monetary allowance as compensation, which was rejected. She then appealed to the Kirov District Court.

On 25 July 2006, the District Court rejected the author’s appeal and confirmed the decision of the district administration. On 23 August 2006, the author filed an appeal against the District Court’s decision with the Astrakhan Regional Court.

On 15 September 2006, this appeal was rejected, and the decision of the lower court affirmed. The author filed a supervisory appeal before the Russian Supreme Court.

On 14 March 2008, the author’s appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected, as the submission deadline had been missed.

On 8 June 2010, the author filed her communication with the Committee under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant. The author claimed that the refusal to provide compensation constituted a violation of her rights to: (i) an effective remedy (ii) compensation in the case of unlawful detention, and (iii) equality before the law (under articles 2, 9(5) and 26 of the Covenant respectively).

The Committee’s decision

In the absence of any challenge to the communication’s admissibility by Russia, the Committee declared the author’s claims under article 9(5) of the Covenant admissible. The Committee declared, however, the author’s communication inadmissible to the extent that it raised issues under articles 2(2), (3) and 26 of the Covenant, as the Committee found that these claims had not been sufficiently substantiated.

On the merits, the Committee noted the author’s claims that Russia had violated her rights under article 9(5) by failing to provide compensation for the years of internment she and her family suffered when they were forcibly deported to Kazakhstan. The Committee recalled that under article 9(5) of the Covenant anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation. The Committee stated in its General Comment No. 35 on liberty and security of the person that under article 9(5) the remedy must not exist merely in theory, but must operate effectively and payment must be made within a reasonable period of time. The Committee noted Russia’s argument that the author did not have a right to additional compensation because she was already receiving similar social benefits, and concluded that Russia’s measures had therefore denied the author of her enforceable right to compensation for the harm suffered due to her deportation and internment.

In view of the above, the Committee concluded that Russia had violated the author’s right to compensation under article 9(5) of the Covenant.

In accordance with article 2(3) of the Covenant, the Committee observed that Russia was under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy, including reconsideration of her request for compensation through a procedure that takes into account the Committee’s findings. The Committee also held that Russia was under an obligation to prevent similar violations in the future.

Russia must now provide the Committee with information about the action that it has taken in the light of the Committee’s recommendations within six months of the Committee’s decision and ensure that the Committee’s decision is published widely.

Sam Hunter Jones is an international lawyer, based in London