The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was marked by domestic violence cases, which had tragic outcomes due to untimely reaction of the state authorities. Human Rights Action (HRA) joined the appeal of NGOs SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Nikšić, Women’s Rights Center and Women’s Safe House in that all institutions in the system of protection against domestic violence should treat the problem of domestic violence and the risks to life and health of victims in committed and responsible manner, and also supports the request for the Supreme State Prosecutor to investigate conduct of the institutions, primarily the police, which failed to provide timely protection of the victim in the latest case with tragic consequences – murder in Čanj.
In the context of the obligation of the state to prevent violation of the victims’ right to life and their effective protection from domestic violence, HRA reminded of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment in the case of Branko Tomašić and others v. Croatia, concerning a mother and a child who were killed by their husband and father upon his release from prison, because the Croatian authorities filed to undertake appropriate measures to prevent it. The Court found in this case that the domestic authorities were aware that the threats made against the lives of the mother and the child were serious, but that despite this failed to undertake appropriate measures in order to protect them. The Court concluded that Croatia violated their right to life and stated: „if those responsible had carefully reflected on the situation, that the murder victims were, after M.M.’s release from prison, imperatively in need of police protection without which their lives remained in mortal danger. Sadly, nothing at all was done in that direction and, as it seems, no one has been held accountable in any way.“
Failure to appropriately apply protective measures was a subject of many judgments in which the European Court of Human Rights determined the responsibility of the states. In case E.S. and others v. Slovakia the domestic court rejected the request of the victim of domestic violence for her husband to be ordered to leave their home, the court finding that it did not have the power to restrict her husband’s access to the property, which led to the mother and the daughter who had been abused being forced to leave their home and move away from their friends and family. The father was later convicted of sexual abuse, and the European Court found that by failing to apply protective measure of removal of the bully from home the state violated Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the Convention.
The European Court found that the state is obliged to ensure ex officio prosecution of domestic violence even when the victims suffered minor bodily injuries, which is normally prosecuted by private action, otherwise the state would be responsible for violation of Article 8 of the Convention (Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria).
The press release issued by the Registrar of the ECHR regarding the judgment in the case M. and M. v. Croatia which was adopted on 3 September2015, in which a mother and her daughter complained that the domestic authorities failed to investigate allegations of child abuse by the father and prevent further abuse is available here. The Court found in this case violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 8 of the Convention (right to private and family life) h in relation to the child.