European Court of Human Rights: Lithuanian Authorities Failed to Effectively Investigate Domestic Violence Case

On, March 26, 2013, the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that Lithuania violated Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhumane or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. A Lithuanian national who was a victim of domestic violence brought the case based on the authorities’ failure to investigate her allegations of ill-treatment and to bring her partner to account.
 
The victim began to seek help immediately after the violence occurred in 2001. However, authorities failed to investigate the case and delayed the process for many years until the case was refused in 2007, without examination, as the prosecution had become time-barred. Therefore, the Court held that the authorities had not provided the victim with adequate protection against acts of domestic violence and that this constitutes a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.
 
States have the obligation not only to bring to justice the alleged offenders and empower the victims of domestic violence with an active role in the criminal proceedings, but also to prevent private actors from committing or reiterating the offence and provide elementary social support measures to victims, such as post-traumatic care and shelter. Such an international positive obligation must be acknowledged, in view of the broad and long-lasting consensus mentioned above, as a principle of customary international law, binding on all States. This is a fortiori true in the case of violence against women..." said Judge Pinto de Albuquerque in his concurring opinion.
 
The Judgment may be found here.