International law issues
Example: On May 22, 2013, the European Commission voted to approve a regulation to extend the coverage of protection orders for victims of gender violence, as well as stalking and harassment victims. The aim is to make all such protection orders recognized throughout the European Union in order to ensure victim safety throughout the region. Although the regulation protects the “physical and psychological integrity” of all victims, additional elements such as guaranteed access to battered women services reflect the Commission’s focus on women survivors in particular.
Protective order certificates will still be issued by the state in which the protection order was granted but will be available online at no cost in order to further simplify the process of transferring it from one member state to the next. The certificate holder must then notify the member state’s police for the order to go into effect. The person against whom the protective order has been filed will also be made aware that it extends throughout the EU. The protective order certificates will be multilingual and uniform throughout the region and will include detailed information about the victim’s aggressor.
The projected date of implementation is no later than 2015. The Commission will monitor member states to ensure implementation and enforcement of the regulation and will provide expert assistance and implementation guidelines.
CASE STUDY: Obtaining redress for domestic violence through human rights bodies
Plaintiffs in domestic violence cases have been successful in obtaining redress against states through various international bodies:
Eremia v. Moldova: In 2013 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Moldovan authorities failed to prevent a police officer from repeatedly beating his wife in front of their two daughters. The court awarded the complainant/survivor and her daughters more than €17,000. The court held that even though authorities had knowledge of the abuse they failed to take effective measures against the offender and to protect the complainant/survivor from future violence. It also found that despite detrimental psychological effects of her daughters witnessing the violence, authorities took little or no action to prevent its recurrence.
A.T v. Hungary: In 2005, the CEDAW Committee, found that the complainant, although she sought help from Hungarian civil and criminal courts and child protection authorities, did not receive any assistance or protection from the Hungarian government. The case involved allegations of severe domestic violence. The Committee found that Hungary had violated the rights of A.T. under the Convention, and made recommendations to Hungary that it act to protect the safety of the author and act more generally to effect the rights granted under the Convention.
Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria: In 2008, The European Court of Human Rights found that Bulgaria had violated its obligations under Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by requiring the domestic violence victim to prosecute the case. The Court awarded costs and damages to the applicants. The case is significant as the first domestic violence case to be decided in the European Court of Human Rights.
Opuz v. Turkey: In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkey had failed to use due diligence to protect the plaintiff from domestic violence, as it was required to do under the European Convention on Human Rights and CEDAW, and awarded the plaintiff damages.
Survivors and asylum law
(See: UN Handbook ch. 3.7.1; VAWA, USA; and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2002) of Canada.)