In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Lapshin v. Azerbaijan (application no. 13527/18) the European Court of Human Rights held:

unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 2 – procedural aspect (right to life: obligation to conduct an effective investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and

by 6 votes to 1, that there had been a violation of Article 2 – substantive aspect (right to life).

The case concerned an incident during the applicant’s imprisonment in Azerbaijan in 2017 for “having crossed the State border outside the checkpoints” during journeys to Nagorno-, and the ensuing inquiry by the prosecutor’s office into the incident. The authorities asserted that the incident had been a suicide attempt, while the applicant alleged it had been attempted murder.

The applicant was resuscitated and hospitalized in an intensive-care unit. The following day the applicant was pardoned by the President of Azerbaijan and, upon his discharge from hospital three days later, was expelled to Israel.

The Court found that the inquiry into the prison incident had been ineffective and in breach of the respondent State’s procedural obligations under Article 2 of the Convention. It found that the respondent State had failed to satisfy the burden of proof resting on it to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation as regards the incident which had put the applicant’s life in danger. There had therefore been a violation of Article 2 under its substantive limb.

The Court held that Azerbaijan was to pay the applicant 30,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage.


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