In 2007, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women considered Goekce v. Austria (C/39/D/5/2005 ). In 2002, the author's (Goekce's) husband shot and killed her in front of their two daughters. Before her death, the author had obtained three expulsion and prohibition-to-return orders against her husband in response to repeated episodes of domestic violence. The local prosecutor denied requests to detain the husband and terminated proceedings against him two days prior the author’s death. Police reports show that the law enforcement failed to respond in a timely fashion to the dispute that resulted in the author’s death. Representatives of the author submitted a complaint to the Committee, alleging that Austria’s Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family provided inadequate protection for victims of spousal abuse, and stating that women are disproportionately affected by the State’s failure to effectively respond to domestic violence.
Decision. The Committee found that although Austria had adopted progressive legislation to address domestic violence, State authorities needed to investigate and respond to such complaints with increased diligence. Accordingly, the Committee concluded that the police knew or should have known that the author was in serious danger; thus, they were accountable for failing to protect her. By allowing the perpetrator’s rights to supersede the victim’s right to life and to physical and mental integrity, Austrian law enforcement violated its obligations under Article 2 to end sex-based discrimination through appropriate legislation, and its Article 3 duty to guarantee women’s equal access to human rights. The Committee recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family, respond to complaints of domestic violence with due diligence, and provide adequate sanctions for the failure of authorities to do so.