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ECHR orders Russia to pay compensation to domestic violence victim whose husband cut off her hands
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Russia is to pay compensation to several domestic violence victims over the authorities’ failure to respond to their cases.
One of the applicants, Margarita Gracheva, whose ex-husband was sentenced to fourteen years in prison for cutting off her hands in 2017, was awarded more than $400,000 in compensation.
The case against Russia was brought before the European Court by Gracheva and three other Russian nationals: Natalya Tunikova, Yelena Gershman, and Irina Petrakova. In the words of the ECHR:
“The case concerned acts of domestic violence, including death threats, bodily injuries and one case of severe mutilation, which the applicants sustained at the hands of their former partners or husbands, and the domestic authorities’ alleged failure to establish a legal framework for combating acts of domestic violence and bringing the perpetrators to account.”
In a judgment handed down on Tuesday, December 14, the ECHR unanimously held that there had been violations of Article 3 (prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment) and Article 14 (prohibition on discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the victims.
“The Court found, in particular, that the Russian authorities had failed to establish a legal framework to combat domestic violence effectively; they had not assessed the risks of recurrent violence; and they had not carried out an effective investigation into the domestic violence the applicants had suffered,” the judgment states.
The ECHR also declared that women in Russia are in a situation of de facto discrimination when it comes to protection against the risk of domestic violence.
According to the judgement, Russia is to pay Gracheva 330,600 euros ($374,000) in compensation for past and future medical expenses and loss of income, and another 40,000 euros ($45,000) in non-pecuniary damages. The Court also awarded 20,000 euros ($22,600) in damages each to Tunikova, Gershman, and Petrakova, as well as another 5,000 euros ($5,650) to each applicant for costs and expenses.
During the consideration of the claim, the Russian Justice Ministry insisted that the state couldn’t be held responsible for the domestic violence cases since the victims’ “suffering and injuries were caused by the actions of private individuals (and not government officials).”
A bill on preventing domestic abuse has been pending on the Russian Federation Council’s website since November 2019. The speakers of both the upper and lower chambers of the Russian parliament supported the bill. However, it drew criticism from civil society activists who took part in developing the legislation. In addition, the Russian Orthodox Church has campaigned against adopting the draft law, claiming that it’s “anti-family.” The bill has yet to be submitted to the Russian State Duma for consideration.
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