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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Europe court finds Turkish government responsible for domestic violence killing
Jaclyn Belczyk at 8:13 AM ET

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [judgment text; press release] Wednesday that the Turkish government is responsible for the death of a woman at the hands of her ex-husband. The court found that in failing to prevent the woman's death, Turkey had violated her right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. The court also found a violation of Article 3, the prohibition of torture, and Article 14, the prohibition of discrimination. The court held:

The research conducted by the aforementioned organisations indicates that when victims report domestic violence to police stations, police officers do not investigate their complaints but seek to assume the role of mediator by trying to convince the victims to return home and drop their complaint. In this connection, police officers consider the problem as a "family matter with which they cannot interfere."

It also transpires from these reports that there are unreasonable delays in issuing injunctions by the courts ... because the courts treat them as a form of divorce action and not as an urgent action. Delays are also frequent when it comes to serving injunctions on the aggressors, given the negative attitude of the police officers. Moreover, the perpetrators of domestic violence do not seem to receive dissuasive punishments, because the courts mitigate sentences on the grounds of custom, tradition or honour.

As a result of these problems, the aforementioned reports suggest that domestic violence is tolerated by the authorities and that the remedies indicated by the Government do not function effectively. ...

In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that the applicant has been able to show, supported by unchallenged statistical information, the existence of a prima facie indication that the domestic violence affected mainly women and that the general and discriminatory judicial passivity in Turkey created a climate that was conducive to domestic violence.
The court ordered the Turkish government to pay €30,000 in damages to the victim's daughter. This marks the first time [DW report] the court has ruled against a state in a domestic violence case.

Domestic violence continues to be a global problem, as it often goes unpunished. In September, the India Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) [official website] announced that it would review [JURIST report] the country's controversial anti-dowry [BBC backgrounder] act because increasing numbers of Indian women had issued complaints about misuse. Despite legislation controlling the cultural and religious practice, India's dowry system continues illegally, leaving many women subject to abuse without enforcement of legal protections from so-called "dowry deaths" [backgrounder]. In 2006, the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] released a report [COE press release; JURIST report] criticizing France's human rights record and identifying impunity for domestic violence as a shortcoming in the French judicial system.

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