Timishev v. Russia (Application no. 47598/08)
The applicant was travelling by a collective taxi from Nalchik to Grozny in Chechnya when a police officer stopped the vehicle at the border and checked the passengers’ identity documents at about 13:00. The police officer told the applicant that he would be charged with an administrative offence for using an invalid identity document because his passport was made of red ink. The officer informed the applicant that he was being temporarily detained and transported him to a police station to draft a report, which was completed at 15:15. After that, a different police officer drove the applicant to the district police station where his documents were verified and he was released at 17:10. The applicant asked the supervising prosecutor to investigate the reason for the police detention, which he did. According to the police, the applicant was initially detained for disobeying police orders and had been free to go at 15:15, but that the applicant had then requested the police to drive him to the district station so he could file a complaint. The police had no documentation of the applicant’s initial detention nor of his police transport to the district station, both of which are required to keep under the law. The investigating prosecutor issued a decision refusing to institute criminal proceedings. The applicant appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that he was detained by police for an impermissible reason in violation of Article 5 §1 (c) of the Convention.
Violation of Article 5 §1 (c) of the Convention
The Court found that the applicant’s detention violated his right to liberty and security because he was not free to leave police custody at any time between 13:00 and 17:10, and his detention was not lawful. According to the Court, there was nothing to suggest the applicant could choose not to follow the police officers from the collective taxi to the police station and the applicant did not freely go with the police from the station to the district station for the purpose of filing a complaint since the police were not able to find the complaint that the applicant allegedly filed. In finding the detention unlawful, the Court noted the absence of any records formalizing the date, time and location of the applicant’s detention. It further noted the lack of any transport document taking the applicant to the district station, as required by local law. Finally, the Court found that the applicant’s detention did not breach any substantive law since the passport authority, not the applicant, printed his passport with red ink and there was no additional allegation that the applicant had tampered with the document. As a result, the Court found the applicant’s detention to violate his right to liberty and security under Article 5 of the European Convention.
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