Rantsev v. Cyprus  and Russia  | 2010

Death of an alleged victim of human trafficking

I can't sleep at night. I close my eyes and I see Oxana. Not as an adult, but as a laughing child of 5 years old.

Oxana’s father, Nikolai Rantsev, reported in Komsomolskaya Pravda, 15th May 2014 - © Photo: Cyprus Mail



At age 20, Oxana Rantseva was allegedly trafficked from Russia to Cyprus for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Two weeks later, she was found dead beneath a fifth-floor balcony, after trying to escape.

The Cypriot authorities found that nobody was criminally responsible for the events and refused to investigate further.

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation had repeatedly been raised as a major problem in Cyprus.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court found that Oxana had visited a police station a few hours before her death in circumstances suggesting that she was a victim of human trafficking. Yet the Cypriot authorities had failed to do anything to protect her, just before she died. They also failed to properly investigate the circumstances of her death. This was partly due to a lack of laws requiring the Cypriot authorities to tackle human trafficking.

The Russian authorities had also failed to investigate how Oxana had been recruited and who had been responsible for taking her to Cyprus.


Human trafficking was criminalised in both Russia and Cyprus after the events took place. Changes were also made to Cypriot visa rules which had been manipulated to enable women to be trafficked for sexual exploitation. Furthermore, the Cypriot authorities ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and promised to work with European anti-trafficking experts. 

A further investigation was carried out into Oxana Rantseva’s death. As a result, two Cypriot police officers were prosecuted for neglect of duty and her employer was prosecuted for abduction and kidnapping.

Oxana's father, Nikolay Rantsev, was awarded compensation for the breach of his daughter’s basic rights.


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