ECHR ruling of April 24, 2018 in the case of Lozovyye v. Russia (application N 4587/09).
In 2009, complainants were assisted in preparing an application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to the Russian Federation.
The case was successfully considered a complaint about the burial of the body of the applicants' son, who died as a result of the crime, without taking reasonable measures to notify them of his death. The case has violated the requirements of Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicants' son was killed in St. Petersburg. While the authorities were taking certain actions to establish the relatives of the victim, the body of the victim had been buried before the investigation was completed. When the applicants later learned of this, they achieved the exhumation of the body and reburied it in their hometown. In response to the applicants' complaints that the authorities had not notified them of the death of their son, the district court found that the investigator had not taken sufficient measures to identify the relatives of the deceased, although the criminal case file contained sufficient data for this. Subsequently, the applicants filed a claim for damages, but he was unsuccessful.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
Regarding compliance with Article 8 of the Convention. The applicants' right to respect for their private and family life was violated when the authorities did not inform them (and did not even attempt to do so) about the death of their son before he was buried. In such situations as in the present case, when the state authorities, but not relatives, knew about the death of the person, the relevant authorities were at least obliged to take reasonable measures to ensure that the family members of the deceased person were informed about his death.
With regard to the relevant legal framework, the authorities did not have a clear obligation to notify the relatives of a person who died as a result of criminal acts, although there was a certain obligation to identify these people in order to grant them victim status in a criminal case. However, the lack of clarity of domestic law and practice was not in itself sufficient to establish a violation by a state of a positive obligation under Article 8 of the Convention.
As to the question whether the authorities took reasonable practical measures, as follows from the findings of the domestic courts, there were several ways in which the authorities could identify the applicants, but did not. The decision on the burial was made before the official completion of the search for applicants. Under such circumstances, and taking into account the personal data of the deceased person that the authorities had, the authorities did not show reasonable diligence, respectively, they did not fulfill their positive obligation in the present case.
The case was a violation of Article 8 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awards the applicants jointly 10,000 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage and 539 euros in respect of pecuniary damage.