IJ №1 (33) 2020
State obligations of protecting from domestic violence: commentary on the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Volodina v. Russia

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Abstract

The European Court of Human Rights for the first time found Russia liable for violation of the right to be protected from ill-treatment in the context of domestic violence. The Court indicated that the inaction of the state led to the failure to fulfill positive obligations to protect everyone within its jurisdiction from the ill-treatment. The Court reiterated that the obligations also extend to protection from the actions of private individuals, if the state was aware of the risk, but did not take preventive measures. It was also the first judgment where the Court has recognized that Russia permits discrimination based on sex, since women comprise the vast majority of victims of domestic violence and do not receive equal protection of the law. A chamber of seven judges unanimously found a violation of Articles 3 and 14 of the Convention. The judgment also opened an important discussion about whether the cruelest forms of domestic violence can be recognized as a torture. Three of the judges supported this position, while four voted not to specify the degree of suffering of Valeria Volodina. The judgment opens the way to improving the Russian legislation in protection from domestic violence. The Court indicated that the punishment should provide a deterrent effect, and the prosecution should be public so as not to impose an unbearable burden on the victim to collect evidence and submit it to the domestic courts. The Court places particular emphasis on the need to introduce protective orders as a measure of crime prevention. For the first time in the case against Russia, the Court applied the standards typical of classical cases of police torture, indicating the obligation of providing an effective investigation.

About the author:
Olga Gnezdilova – Attorney, Legal Director in Stichting Justice Initiative, Berlin, Germany

Citation: Gnezdilova O. (2020) Obyazatel’stva gosudarstva po zashchite ot domashnego nasiliya: kommentariy k postanovleniyu Evropeyskogo Suda po pravam cheloveka po delu Volodina protiv Rossii [State obligations of protecting from domestic violence: commentary on the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Volodina v. Russia]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.1, pp.3–10. (In Russian).

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