Facts – In February 2001 the applicant applied to a district court to bring a private prosecution after allegedly being beaten by her partner on five separate occasions in January and February 2001. In January 2002 the court forwarded her complaint to the public prosecutor, ordering him to start his own pre-trial criminal investigation; the applicant’s partner was then charged with systematically causing the applicant minor bodily harm. The investigation was twice halted by police investigators for lack of evidence, but on each occasion was reopened on appeal on the grounds that it had not been sufficiently thorough. The public prosecutor discontinued the investigation in June 2005 as a legislative reform in May 2003 meant that prosecutions in respect of minor bodily harm now had to be brought by the victim privately unless the case was of public interest or the victim could not protect her rights through a private prosecution. The district court upheld that decision. When the applicant lodged a new request to bring a private prosecution, this was refused without examination of the merits as the prosecution had become time-barred.
1. The case originated in an application (no. 61382/09) against the Republic of Moldova lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by three Moldovan nationals, Ms O. B., Mr V. B. and Mr I. B. (“the applicants”), on 19 November 2009.
2. The applicants were represented by Mr A. Bivol, a lawyer practising in Chişinău. The Moldovan Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr V. Grosu.
3. The applicants alleged, in particular, that Mrs O. B. (‘the first applicant’) had been subjected to violence from her ex-husband and that the other applicants had witnessed such violence and been affected by it, while the State authorities had done little to stop such violence and prevent it from happening again.
In the decision Eremia and Others v. the Republic of Moldova, the European Court of Human Rights held that the Republic of Moldova has violated Articles 3, 8 and Article 14 in conjunction with Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights for failing to prevent a husband (working as a police officer) from repeatedly beating his wife in front of their two teenage daughters. The applicants in this case were three Moldovan national women; the first applicant, Lilia Eremia, and her two daughters (second and third applicants, Doina and Mariana Eremia). The mother was repeatedly beaten by her husband, a police officer, in front of their two daughters. In addition to the physical and mental suffering of the mother, the two girls’ psychological well-being was adversely affected.
The facts: On the first applicant’s request, a protection order had been issued against the violent husband, who did however not respect the order. Finally, the Moldovan Courts stood on the husband’s side by upholding his appeal and partly revoking the protection order. The first applicant had filed a criminal complaint and had claimed that she has been pressured by other police officers to withdraw the complaint. Although a criminal investigation had been finally launched, and substantive evidence of the husband’s guilt has been found, the prosecutor decided to suspend the investigation for one year subject to the condition that the investigation would be reopened if the husband committed another offence during that time. The prosecutor based his decision on the consideration that, the husband had committed “a less serious offence” and “did not represent a danger to society.”
The study, the first of its kind, reviews existing quantitative and qualitative data on the prevalence and incidence of the types of violence which have already been documented in relation to these groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Three countries were selected, one per region, to illustrate the findings. For Latin America, Guatemala was selected for the study to benefit from its widely documented experience as a post-conflict country and for its on-going legislative and institutional reforms aimed at addressing issues such as femicide and sexual violence among indigenous women and girls. For Africa, Kenya was chosen, given available evidence on the prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting among indigenous communities and promising legislative developments in this field. Finally, in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines was selected because of the involvement of girls and adolescents in armed conflict in the predominantly indigenous area of Mindanao and accompanying initiatives to address this situation.
1. The case originated in an application (no. 57693/10) against the Republic of Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Hungarian national, Ms Matild Kalucza (“the applicant”), on 25 September 2010.
2. The applicant was represented by Ms G. Zsemlye, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr L. Höltzl, Agent, Ministry of Public Administration and Justice.
3. The applicant complained that the authorities had failed to respect her rights under Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the Convention insofar as they did not comply with their positive obligations, as a result of which she was forced to live with a person who constantly abused her physically and psychologically.
2. The applicants were represented by Mr S.S. Marinov, manager of Civil Association Regional Future, Vidin. The Italian Government were represented initially by their Co-Agent, Mr N. Lettieri, and subsequently by their Co-Agent, Ms P. Accardo. The Bulgarian Government were represented initially by their Agent, Ms N. Nikolova, and subsequently by their Agent, Ms M. Dimova.
3. The applicants alleged, in particular, that there had been a violation of Article 3 in respect of the lack of adequate steps to prevent the first applicant’s ill-treatment by a Serbian family by securing her swift release and the lack of an effective investigation into that alleged ill-treatment.
P. was subsequently admitted to a hospital in Warsaw, where she was informed that the hospital was facing pressure not to perform the abortion and had received numerous e-mails criticising the applicants for their decision. P. also received unsolicited text messages from the priest and others trying to convince her to change her mind. Feeling manipulated and helpless, the applicants left the hospital two days later. They were harassed by anti-abortion activists and eventually taken to a police station, where they were questioned for several hours. On the same day, the police were informed that the Lublin Family Court had ordered P.’s placement in a juvenile shelter as an interim measure in proceedings issued to divest her mother of her parental rights on the grounds that she was pressurising P. into having the abortion. In making that order the court had regard to text messages P. had sent to her friend saying she did not know what to do. Later that day, the police drove P. to Lublin, where she was placed in a juvenile shelter. Suffering from pain, she was taken to hospital the following day, where she stayed for a week. A number of journalists came to see her and tried to talk to her. After complaining to the Ministry of Health, the applicants were eventually taken in secret to Gdańsk, some 500 kilometres from their home, where the abortion was carried out.
The family court proceedings were discontinued eight months later after P. testified that she had not been forced by her mother to have an abortion. Criminal proceedings that had been brought against P. for suspected sexual intercourse with a minor were also discontinued as was the criminal investigation against the alleged perpetrator of the rape.
1.The case originated in an application (no. 49669/07) against the Republic of Bulgaria lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Bulgarian national, Ms P.M. (“the applicant”), on 25 October 2007.
2.The applicant was represented by Mr V.Vasilev, a lawyer practising in Sofia. The Bulgarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms M. Kotseva, of the Ministry of Justice.
3.The applicant alleged, in particular, that the investigation into sexual offences of which she had been a victim had been ineffective, and that she had not had an effective domestic remedy in this respect.
R.K.B.’s employer accused her of having an affair with a male colleague and dismissed her from the position but did not dismiss the male colleague, and threatened to “spread rumours about her relationships with other men” to pressure her to sign a document, attesting that she had been paid all her benefits upon termination. R.K.B. presented a claim to the Committee, alleging that her employer, a hairdressing salon, had unfairly terminated her contract of employment based on gender stereotypes. The Kocaeli 3rd Labour Court did not agree with the petitioner that dismissing her but not her male colleague was discriminatory. The court simply decided that the termination of her contract had not been justified. R.K.B. appealed to the Court of Cassation, which dismissed the appeal without reference to gender discrimination.
The Committee concluded that the Turkish courts based their decisions on gender stereotypes, tolerating allegations of extramarital relationships by male employees but not by female employees. The Committee decided that there had been a violation of articles 5(a), 11(1a) and 11(1d) of CEDAW. The Committee also responded to the State argument that laws on women’s rights had been adopted since the 1990s, hence meeting the due diligence standard, by explaining that the State has the obligation to actually improve women’s position in society and to eliminate wrongful stereotypes. The Committee decided that adequate compensation should be paid to the author; that the State should take measures to implement laws on gender equality in the work environment; and that the State should provide training to judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on women’s rights and gender-based stereotypes.
In 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Jallow v. Bulgaria (C/52/D/32/2011). Isatou Jallow moved from the Gambia to Bulgaria after marrying A.P., a Bulgarian national. Once in Bulgaria, A.P. allegedly became abusive toward Jallow and subjected her to physical and psychological violence, including sexual abuse, and attempted to force her to take part in pornographic films and photographs. Even after social workers and police became involved, authorities took no measures to protect Jallow from further domestic violence and sexual abuse. In March 2009, prosecutors—without interviewing Jallow—refused to continue investigating the alleged domestic violence due to insufficient evidence. An order granting A.P. custody of the couple’s daughter was issued solely on the basis of A.P.’s statement and the Court did not consider Jallow’s allegations of domestic violence. In November 2010, Jallow submitted a communication to the Committee on behalf of her daughter and herself claiming that Bulgarian authorities failed to provide adequate protection against domestic violence and that the state’s actions relative to her situation amounted to gender-based discrimination.
The Committee concluded that Bulgaria had violated Articles 2(b)-2(f), 5(a), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(d) and 16(1)(f) of CEDAW, read in conjunction with Articles 1 and 3, when it failed to investigate allegations that A.P. had committed domestic violence against Jallow and her daughter. In the Committee’s view, these actions, together with the State’s failure to inform Jallow properly about her daughter’s whereabouts and her condition, violated Articles 2(b) and 2(c). The Committee determined that Bulgaria had also failed to protect Jallow’s rights to equality within marriage and as a parent, and to treat her daughter’s interests as paramount, in violation of Articles 5(a), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(d) and 16(1)(f). The Committee explained that Bulgaria’s actions were based on stereotypes concerning the roles of women and men within marriage, according to which men are perceived to be superior to women. The authorities’ reliance on these stereotypes caused them to act on the statements and actions of A.P. and to disregard Jallow’s allegations of violence. It also meant that they ignored Jallow’s vulnerable position and disregarded evidence concerning the disproportionate impact of domestic violence on women. The Committee urged Bulgaria to compensate Jallow and her daughter for violating their rights under CEDAW.It also recommended that the State Party adopt measures to ensure that women victims/survivors of domestic violence, including migrant women, have effective access to justice and other services (e.g., translation services). It also called on Bulgaria to provide regular training on CEDAW and the Optional Protocol and to adopt legislative and other measures to ensure that domestic violence is taken into account in the determination of custody and visitation rights of children.
In 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered J.S. v. the U.K. (C/53/D/38/2012 ). J.S. (“the author”) claims that he is a victim of discrimination of a continuous nature, because the revision of the 1948 British Nationality Act in 1981 and 2002 did not eliminate the discrimination against women. He claims that if he had been born of a father with United Kingdom and Colonies’ citizenship, or after 1983, he could have applied for a British passport.
The author claims that the Convention recognizes women’s autonomy and equality in the transfer and acquisition of nationality, and permits either spouse to confer nationality on their children. On the issue of nationality, the granting of equal rights to women requires having an independent nationality, regardless of the nationality of one’s husband, and granting equal rights regarding the nationality of children. States parties are also expected to uphold equal rights with regard to laws relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose one’s residence and domicile. They must also take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in matters relating to marriage and family relations, and ensure that overall equality between men and women exists. Any State which does not respect these provisions in practice and law fails in its duties under articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.
The author claims to be a victim of a violation of article 9 of the Convention. In substantiation, he refers to the Committee’s general recommendation No. 21 (1994) on equality in marriage and family relations (which emphasizes the importance of granting equal rights to women concerning acquisition and retention of citizenship. The author notes in particular that paragraph 6 of general recommendation No. 21 reads as follow: “Nationality is critical to full participation in society [...]. Without status as nationals or citizens, women are deprived of the right to vote or to stand for public office and may be denied access to public benefits and a choice of residence. Nationality should be capable of change by an adult woman and should not be arbitrarily removed because of marriage or dissolution of marriage or because her husband or father changes his nationality.”
In 2012, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Kell v. Canada (CEDAW/C/51/D/19/2008). In 1990, William Senych applied for housing without the knowledge of his common law partner, Cecilia Kell, an Aboriginal woman from the Rae-Edzo community in the Northwest Territories (NWT) of Canada. Senych’s application was denied because he was not a member of the Rae-Edzo community for which the housing was earmarked. On the advice of a Tenant Relations officer at the Rae-Edzo Housing Authority, Kell then applied for housing, listing Senych as her spouse. In 1991, the NWT Housing Corporation issued an Agreement for Purchase and Sale to Kell and Senych as co-owners of the property. Senych subjected Kell to domestic violence, including economic abuse, over the subsequent three-year period. In 1993, following a request from Senych and without Kell’s knowledge, the NWT Housing Corporation (on instruction from the Rae-Edzo Housing Authority) removed Kell’s name from the Assignment of Lease, the document that certified co-ownership. The removal had the effect of making Senych the sole owner of the property. Senych was a board member of the Housing Authority at the time of his request
In 1995, Senych changed the locks and denied Kell access to the property. He subsequently sought to evict her while she sought protection in a shelter Kell filed proceedings against Senych in the NWT Supreme Court seeking compensation for assault, battery, sexual assault, intimidation, trespass to chattels, loss of use of her home and consequential payment of rent and attendant expenses. She also filed a declaration that Senych had obtained the property fraudulently, aided and abetted by the NWT Government. Kell was assigned a legal aid lawyer, who advised her to comply with the letter of eviction and did not challenge the letter’s validity. Shortly thereafter, Senych was diagnosed with cancer at which time Kell’s lawyer advised her to delay proceedings. Senych later died, following which Kell’s lawyer initiated proceedings against his estate, the NWT Housing Corporation and another. A replacement legal aid lawyer added a claim for damages for assault and intimidation. In 1999, Senych’s estate and the Housing Corporation offered Kell a monetary settlement. During negotiations, Kell’s case was twice reassigned to new lawyers. Both insisted that Kell settle. She refused, however, as her key concern was regaining the property. Following her refusal, Kell’s lawyer ceased acting on her behalf. Kell’s case was only re-assigned to a new lawyer after she appealed to the Legal Services Board. The Supreme Court dismissed both proceedings for “want of prosecution”. Costs were imposed against Kell and subsequent appeals were unsuccessful. In 2004, Kell filed a third action related to her interest in and right to the leasehold title and possession of the property. The property had then been sold and the Court dismissed the matter.
Kell subsequently submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in which she claimed that Canada had violated articles 1, 2(d), 2(e), 14(2)(h), 15(1)-15(4), 16(1)(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Kell claimed that Canada had allowed its agents – the NWT Housing Corporation and the Rae-Edzo Housing Authority – to discriminate against her on the grounds of sex, marital status and cultural heritage and had failed to ensure that its agents provide equal treatment to female housing applicants. Kell noted, in particular, Canada’s failure to prevent and remedy the fraudulent removal of her name from the Assignment of Lease and the failure to ensure that its agents afford women and men equal rights in respect of ownership, acquisition, management, administration and enjoyment of property.DV, sexual abuse
M.P.M., a Mexican national, sought asylum in Canada in 2006. M.P.M. claimed that she was entitled to asylum because she is a victim/survivor of domestic violence and was seeking to escape her abusive ex-husband, a Mexican police officer.
Canadian authorities dismissed M.P.M.’s claim on the basis that she had failed to establish that she was a refugee, within the meaning of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Authorities concluded that M.P.M. had falsely claimed to be a victim/survivor of domestic violence in order to obtain asylum in Canada and failed to provide credible and consistent evidence to support a claim of asylum. An application for judicial review and a separate application for a pre-removal risk assessment were also dismissed. M.P.M. did not file an application to prevent her deportation on humanitarian and compassionate grounds because of the low success and cost of such applications. In addition, she believed that Canadian authorities would dismiss such an application, since it would be based on the same arguments included in her previous unsuccessful applications. M.P.M. subsequently submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) in which she claimed, inter alia, that there were substantial grounds for believing that her life and safety were at real risk if deported to Mexico. M.P.M. submitted that Canada had violated articles 2(c), 2(d) and 3 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by discriminating against her in her asylum claim and failing to ensure equal protection of her rights. In addition, she submitted that the failure of Canadian authorities to take her vulnerable situation fully into account constituted a violation of article 15 concerning equality in legal and civil matters. M.P.M. also claimed that Canada had violated article 16 of equality in marriage and family relations, but she failed to identify the basis of that claim.
The Committee concluded that the communication was ill-founded and not sufficiently substantiated and, thus, declared it inadmissible under article 4(2)(c) of the Optional Protocol. In doing so, it noted the voluntary return of M.P.M. to Mexico, her failure to explain her return to the Committee or follow-up her communication, the absence of any reports of violence since her return to Mexico, and her failure to provide new evidence to the Committee to substantiate her claim. Having declared the communication inadmissible on this basis, the Committee declined to consider Canada’s other objections to the admissibility of the communication.
Kell submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in which she claimed that Canada had violated articles 1, 2(d), 2(e), 14(2)(h), 15(1)-15(4), 16(1)(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Kell claimed that Canada had allowed its agents – the NWT Housing Corporation and the Rae-Edzo Housing Authority – to discriminate against her on the grounds of sex, marital status and cultural heritage and had failed to ensure that its agents provide equal treatment to female housing applicants. Kell noted, in particular, Canada’s failure to prevent and remedy the fraudulent removal of her name from the Assignment of Lease and the failure to ensure that its agents afford women and men equal rights in respect of ownership, acquisition, management, administration and enjoyment of property.
This Article explains the development of a new judicial trend towards states' positive obligation to protect victims of domestic abuse. This Article also investigates the standard of due diligence for state liability, and suggests universal criteria according to which international law should apply to domestic violence as a human rights violation.
In 2001, Ms. Zhanna Mukhina, a Russian national currently residing and working in Italy, gave birth. The father of the child, the author’s employer, refused to admit paternity and died shortly after the child’s birth. In 2005, the author lost custody of her son ‘owing to the deterioration of her mental state and her inability to support the child.’ Subsequent appeals to regain custody of her son proved unsuccessful and, in 2009, the European Court of Human Rights declared a complaint from the author inadmissible.
In 2010, the author submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women claiming, without further substantiation, that Italy had violated her rights under article 16(f) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to ensure women and men ‘[t]he same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children ….’
In 2011, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Rivera v. Canada (CEDAW/C/50/D/26/2010). In 2006, Guadalupe Herrera Rivera (GHR), a Mexican national, claimed asylum in Canada, along with her then husband and their two minor children. Canadian authorities denied the claim on the basis that it lacked credibility.
In October 2008, ‘Assistance aux femmes’, acting on behalf of GHR, filed applications with Immigration Canada for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) and on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds. The H&C grounds application included information about GHR’s experiences of domestic violence, the inadequate protection in Mexico against such violence, and the risk of GHR experiencing further violence if deported to Mexico.
In September 2010, GHR submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) claiming that, if Canada deported her to Mexico, it would violate her rights under articles 1, 2(a)-2(d), 5(a) and 24 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). GHR requested interim measures to prevent Canada from deporting her to Mexico while her communication was pending before the CEDAW Committee.
On August 10 2001, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) issued its landmark decision on the Communication No. 17/2008. The case was filed by the organization Advocaci – Advocacia Cidada pelos Direitos Humanos and the Center for Reproductive Rights against the state of Brazil on November 30th 2007. This is the first decision establishing states’ international responsibility on preventable maternal death case within the UN Human Rights System.