Case of Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia


Case of Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia. European Court of Human Rights; 2010.


Facts – The applicant’s daughter Ms Rantseva, a Russian national, died in unexplained circumstances after falling from a window of a private property in Cyprus in March 2001. She had arrived in Cyprus a few days earlier on a “cabaret-artiste” visa, but had abandoned her work and lodging shortly after starting and had left a note to say she wanted to return to Russia. After locating her in a discotheque some days later, the manager of the cabaret had taken her to the central police station at around 4 a.m. and asked them to detain her as an illegal immigrant. The police had contacted the immigration authorities, who gave instructions that Ms Rantseva was not to be detained and that her employer, who was responsible for her, was to pick her up and bring her to the immigration office at 7 a.m. The manager had collected Ms Rantseva at around 5.20 a.m. and taken her to private premises, where he had also remained. Her body had been found in the street below the apartment at about 6.30 a.m. A bedspread had been looped through the railing of the balcony.

An inquest held in Cyprus concluded that Ms Rantseva had died in circumstances resembling an accident while attempting to escape from an apartment in which she was a guest, but that there was no evidence of foul play. Although the Russian authorities considered, in the light of a further autopsy that was carried out following the repatriation of the body to Russia, that the verdict of the inquest was unsatisfactory, the Cypriot authorities stated that it was final and refused to carry out any additional investigations unless the Russian authorities had evidence of criminal activity. No steps were taken by either the Russian or Cypriot authorities to interview two young women living in Russia whom the applicant said had worked with his daughter at the cabaret and could testify to sexual exploitation taking place there.

In April 2009 the Cypriot authorities made a unilateral declaration acknowledging violations of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Convention, offering to pay compensation to the applicant and advising that independent experts had been appointed to investigate the circumstances of Ms Rantseva’s death, employment and stay in Cyprus.

The Cypriot Ombudsman, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and the United States State Department have published reports which refer to the prevalence of trafficking in human beings for commercial sexual exploitation in Cyprus and the role of the cabaret industry and “artiste” visas in facilitating trafficking in Cyprus.

Law – Article 37 § 1: The Court refused the Cypriot Government’s request for the application to be struck out. It found that, despite the unilateral declaration acknowledging violations of the Convention, respect for human rights in general required it to continue its examination of the case in view of the serious nature of the allegations, the acute nature of the problem of trafficking and sexual exploitation in Cyprus and the paucity of case-law on the question of the interpretation and application of Article 4 of the Convention to trafficking in human beings.

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Last updated on 08/17/2015