European Court of Human Rights: Moldovan Authorities Failed to Protect Domestic Violence Victim

The European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that Moldovan authorities failed to protect a woman from her violent husband, a police officer, and ordered Moldova to pay 17,150 euros to the victim. The court ruled that Moldovan authorities, despite their knowledge of the abuse, failed to take effective measures to protect the victim from further violence and to protect her daughters from witnessing their father’s violence in their home.
 
The court found that none of the police, prosecutor or administrative court measures were effective. Moreover, even when the perpetrator breached the order for protection repeatedly, no particular measures were taken to protect victim’s safety and the prosecutor decided to conditionally suspend the proceedings. After the victim, who suffered repeated violence, asked for an urgent examination of her request for a divorce, the judge refused to speed up its examination and the President of the local court did not take any action in reply to a formal complaint made in that respect.
 
In addition to this, the court found that local Social Assistance and Family Protection Department had failed to enforce the protection order and allegedly insulted the victim by suggesting that she reconcile with the aggressor, saying that she is “not the first nor the last woman to be beaten up by her husband.”
 
The judgment also states that the aggressor, as a police officer, was bound by professional requirements to protect the rights of others, to prevent crimes, and to protect public order; however, authorities failed to enforce the court order and never initiated criminal proceedings against him. The court held that the authorities’ failure to take effective measures resulted in the aggressor’s virtual impunity and therefore the court declared that the State  failed to observe its positive obligations under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
 
In addition, the court stated that the authorities’ attitudes were not a simple failure or delay, but amounted to condoning violence, It held that "[t]he violence was gender-based and amounted to discrimination against the victim.”  Therefore, the Court stated that Moldova violated not only Article 3 but also Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention.
 
Compiled from: Judges make €17,000 award after Moldova’s domestic abuse human rights breachHuman Rights Europe(May 28, 2013) and European Court of Human Rights, Case of Eremia and Others v. The Republic of Moldova (app. No. 3564/11 (28 May 2013).