ECHR Ruling of July 08, 2021 in the case "Tkhelidze v. Georgia" (Complaint No. 33056/17).
ECHR ruling of May 20, 2021 in the case "Beg S.p.a. v. Italy" (complaint No. 5312/11).
In 2017, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the complaint. Subsequently, the complaint was communicated to Georgia.
In the case, a complaint was successfully considered about the inability of the Georgian authorities to take preventive measures to protect the victim of domestic violence and to investigate the inaction of the internal affairs bodies regarding systematic violations and discrimination based on gender. There was a violation of article 2 of the Convention in the case.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant's daughter (M.T.) was subjected to domestic violence by her partner (L.M.). As a result, he shot her, and then shot himself. Subsequently, the applicant filed a number of applications to the District Prosecutor's Office and the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia, demanding the initiation of a criminal case on the fact of alleged negligence on the part of law enforcement officers who dealt with her daughter's case on complaints of domestic violence. These appeals did not give any result or remained unanswered.
Regarding compliance with article 2 of the Convention (substantive aspect), taken in conjunction with article 14 of the Convention. The European Court considers that in Georgia, in general, there is an appropriate legal framework and administrative practice for protecting women from domestic violence. Serious questions in the present case were raised, rather, by the way the existing deterrent mechanism was used by law enforcement officers of Georgia, that is, the actual fulfillment of the obligation to take preventive operational measures to protect the life of the applicant's daughter.
During a very short period, about six months, M.T. and the applicant requested assistance from the Georgian internal affairs officers at least 11 times. In each appeal, they clearly reported the degree of violence in L.M.'s behavior. Law enforcement officers knew that L.M. showed pathological cruelty, had mental illnesses, could not control anger, had a previous criminal record, abused drugs and alcohol. The employees of the internal affairs bodies also knew that M.T. she constantly carried various means of self-defense with her and experienced great fear and anxiety when her partner approached her in the apartment or at work. All these arguments confirmed the real nature of the danger that L.M. posed to M.T. In addition, the violence to which M.T. was subjected could not be considered as individual or separate episodes, but should have been regarded as a continuing situation. If there is a constant situation of domestic violence, there can be no doubt about the immediate nature of the danger to the victim. Thus, the employees of the internal affairs bodies of Georgia knew or were obliged to know that the applicant's daughter was in real and immediate danger.
With regard to the requirement of special care, the European Court found the existence of a number of serious violations committed by law enforcement agencies of Georgia. Firstly, there was an inaccurate or incomplete collection of evidence by law enforcement officers. At the same time, violations in the procedure for collecting evidence on a complaint of domestic violence can lead to an incorrect assessment of the degree of danger of the actual violence committed, negatively affect the prospects of initiating criminal proceedings and even deter victims of violence from reporting violence to the authorities in the future by a family member. In this regard, it was also important that, when accepting statements about incidents, the employees of the internal affairs bodies of Georgia apparently did not carry out an independent, active and comprehensive "assessment of the risk of death" (see for comparison, the Ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court in the case "Kurt v. Austria" (See: The Ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court in the case "Kurt v. Austria" (Kurt v. Austria) of June 15, 2021, complaint No. 62903/15 // Precedents of the European Court of Human Rights. Special issue. 2021. N 6). They did not attach sufficient importance to the potential trigger factors of the use of violence, did not take into account the assessment of the danger by the victim of violence and preferred to reduce the qualification of the incident to a "minor family quarrel". Similar violations by law enforcement officers in response to the first allegations of domestic violence in Georgia were identified by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women (hereinafter referred to as the Special Rapporteur) as violations of a systematic nature.
Moreover, although the legislation of the respondent State provided for various temporary restrictive measures against the person using violence, the relevant Georgian authorities did not use them in the present case. Moreover, neither the applicant nor her daughter were explained their procedural rights by the officers of the internal affairs bodies and were not informed about the various legal and administrative protection measures available to them. On the contrary, the applicant and her daughter were misled because the officers of the internal affairs bodies referred to the inability to detain L.M. or apply restrictive measures to it. Despite these violations committed by the employees of the internal affairs bodies, as a result of the numerous applications filed by M.T. and the applicant, a lot of evidence was presented justifying the initiation of criminal proceedings against L.M., which would have provided an opportunity to place him in custody as part of the chosen preventive measure. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of the respondent State did not do this. This circumstance was noted by the Special Rapporteur as another systemic problem in Georgia.
The inaction of the Georgian law enforcement agencies, in particular the internal affairs bodies, was all the more inexcusable if assessed in the context of the fact that, in general, violence against women, including domestic violence, was indicated in reports as one of the main systemic social problems in Georgia at the time under review. Thus, the authorized authorities knew or should have known about the seriousness of the situation in which many women were in the country, and were obliged to show special care and provide increased protection to this group of people in a vulnerable position. In the light of the above, the European Court ruled that the general and discriminatory passivity of law enforcement agencies in relation to complaints of domestic violence created conditions in the country conducive to its further spread against women. Accordingly, the failure of the Georgian authorities to take prompt preventive measures violated the right of the applicant and her daughter to equal protection before the law.
Thus, there was a continuing inability to take actions that would provide a real chance to prevent a tragic outcome in the present case or to reduce the harm caused, and the inaction of employees of the internal affairs bodies of Georgia can be regarded as a systemic violation.
There was a violation of the requirements of article 2 of the Convention in the case (adopted unanimously).
Regarding compliance with article 2 of the Convention (procedural and legal aspect), considered in conjunction with article 14 of the Convention. The European Court also had to consider whether the Georgian authorities had a positive duty to investigate any inaction of any law enforcement officers involved in the case and bring them to justice.
The European Court has already established that the inaction of law enforcement agencies was one of the reasons that in the applicant's case domestic violence against M.T. ended with her murder. Given that the Georgian authorities knew or should have known about the high degree of danger that a victim of domestic violence found himself in if the authorities failed to fulfill their duties to protect her, their inaction went beyond the usual erroneous judgment or negligence. However, the Georgian Prosecutor's Office ignored the applicant's numerous complaints and did not attempt to identify the relevant officers of the internal affairs bodies, interrogate them and determine their degree of responsibility regarding their inability to respond appropriately to numerous incidents of violence against a woman, which resulted in the murder of a victim of violence. In addition, when submitting an application to initiate an investigation into the actions of law enforcement officers, the applicant repeatedly asked for information from the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia, but never received it. It should be noted that it took the Prosecutor General's Office of Georgia more than two years to recognize the fact of receiving the applicant's written appeals, and even after that no additional information was provided to her. Not even a disciplinary investigation was initiated into the alleged inaction of the employees of the internal affairs bodies, despite the fact that the applicant filed a complaint with the body responsible for disciplinary investigations against employees of the internal affairs bodies, and no action was taken to train these employees how to respond appropriately in the future to complaints of domestic violence. At the same time, taking into account the existence of discriminatory manifestations related to violence against women in the country, there was an urgent public need to conduct an effective check of the likelihood that the reasons for the inaction of law enforcement officers were gender discrimination and bias.
In the case, there was a violation of the requirements of article 2 of the Convention (in its procedural and legal aspect), taken in conjunction with article 14 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In the application of article 41 of the Convention. The European Court awarded the applicant 35,000 euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damage, the claim for compensation for material damage was rejected.