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Sabanchiyeva and Others v. Russia, No. 38450/05, ECtHR (First Section), 6 June 2013


Statutory ban on returning bodies of terrorists to their relatives for burial in accordance with Islamic beliefs. Unlawful interference with the right to respect for private and family life.

Normative references

Art. 8 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR


Although pursuing the legitimate aim of preventing terrorism, the statutory ban on returning bodies of deceased terrorists for burial to their relatives, as well as the exclusion of them from participating in the funeral ceremonies, constitutes a violation of the right to respect for the private and family life. The relevant authorities have to make the decision on the basis of an “individualised approach” and the measure must not have a punitive effect on the deceased’ relatives. 
(In the present case, the applicants are relatives of terrorists, who died as a result of the interception of a terrorist attack. Under Articles 8 and 14 ECHR, they complained about being unable to organize or taking part in the funeral ceremonies of their relatives due to Russia’s anti-terrorism law, which they claim to be discriminatory against Muslim. The Court noted that the decision adopted by Russian authorities had legitimate aims, namely preventing disorder during the burials, protecting the feelings of the relatives of the victims of terrorism and minimising the psychological impact on the population. However, having regard to the “automatic nature” of the measure that did not take into account the individual circumstances of each case, it considered that the ban was disproportionate with regard to the applicants’ right to the protection of private and family life.  Consequently, the Court found a violation of Article 8 ECHR. On the other hand, there has been no violation of Article 14 ECHR. The Court found no indication that the law in question targeted a religious group specifically).