Russia: European Court of Human Rights Rules that Domestic Violence is Systematic and Unaddressed
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 1:35 PM

In July of 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), ruled that domestic violence in Russia is a systematic problem that is not properly addressed by authorities.  The case, Volodina v. Russia, was brought to the court by the Stiching Justice Initiative (SJI), a human rights group that represented Valeriya Volodina, victim of severe domestic violence.  Volodina reported several instances of domestic violence to the police, with no redress. 

The ECHR found that Volodina’s case amounted to a violation of ECHR Article 3, as she suffered “inhuman treatment.”  Additionally, the ECtHR found that Russia did not uphold its obligations to the ECRH, under Article 1, as its legal framework “falls short of the requirements inherent in the State’s positive obligation to establish and apply effectively a system punishing all forms of domestic violence and providing sufficient safeguards for victims.”

Currently, Russia does not have a domestic violence law.  In 2016 and 2017 Russia implemented changes to domestic violence in its Criminal Code to effectively decriminalize many forms of domestic violence, and require private prosecution by the victim.  The Court recognized that the lack of effective legislation to combat domestic violence as well as the absence of protection mechanisms for victims demonstrates that Russian authorities tolerate “a climate which is conducive to domestic violence,” and have “failed to create conditions...that would enable women to live free from fear.”

Compiled from: Volodina v. Russia, App. No. 41261/17, Eur. CT. H.R. (2019); Gorbunova, Yulia, The chilling inaction on domestic violence in Russia is endangering women's lives, Euronews (July 29, 2019).