Hajduová v. Slovakia
Slovakia, European Court of Human Rights

Hajduová v. Slovakia

DATE 30-11-2010DOWNLOAD LEGAL DECISION

Judges:

Nicolas Bratza

Nicolas Bratza

Lech Garlicki

Lech Garlicki

Ljiljana Mijovic

Ljiljana Mijovic

David Thór Björgvinsson

David Thór Björgvinsson

Ján Sikuta

Ján Sikuta

Päivi Hirvelä

Päivi Hirvelä

Mihai Poalelungi

Mihai Poalelungi

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Topics:

Sexist Violence

Related standards:

European Convention on Human Rights Article 8

RELATED STANDARDS

European Convention on Human Rights Article 8

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
European Convention on Human Rights Article 5

RELATED STANDARDS

European Convention on Human Rights Article 5

1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law: (a) the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court; (b) the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law; (c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so; (d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority; (e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of un-sound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants; (f) the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition. 2. Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him. 3. Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial. 4. Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful. 5. Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

WHY IT MATTERS:

The decisions of Court are binding on the national countries and the Council of Ministers will monitor whether the State has complied with the Court’s decision. Although the Court did not find Article 5 of the Convention applicable to this case, it nevertheless issued an opinion that recognizes the seriousness of domestic violence- both physical and psychological harm. The Court notes that domestic violence victims are especially vulnerable, therefore emphasizing a State’s duty to actively provide protection under Article 8 of the Convention.

Further, it is especially significant that the Court recognized that the applicant’s suffering arose from the threats she received from A. after he was released from the hospital. Although the Court’s previous decisions have determined the failure of State protection after a domestic violence was physically harmed, or even killed, and the State was aware that the applicant was at risk to this harm, the Court recognized that non-physical harm can be significant enough to warrant State protection. In this case, the Court noted that A.’s threats towards the applicant were serious enough to harm her psychological well-being and that the government of Slovakia had a duty to prevent this harm because it was aware of A.’s threatening behavior.

The European Court of Human Rights found that the government of Slovakia failed to fulfill its obligations arising from the European Convention on Human Rights. In this case, the applicant’s abusive ex-husband was ordered to receive psychiatric treatment at a hospital. When he was prematurely released after one week, the government did not try to enforce its order and the ex-husband began threatening the applicant and her attorney. The Court concluded that the government’s failure to enforce the order and return the ex-husband to the hospital violated the Convention and that the government had a duty to prevent the applicant’s psychological harm (caused by the ex-husband’s threats).
Criminal proceedings were brought against A., the ex-husband of the applicant, after he verbally and physically attacked the applicant and threatened to kill her and a few other individuals. During the criminal proceedings, it was established that A. suffered a serious personality disorder and experts recommended that A. receive treatment at a psychiatric hospital. A. was convicted at a district court and it was ordered that he be transferred to a hospital for psychiatric treatment as opposed to serving a prison sentence. The hospital did not carry out the treatment and A. was released a week later- the district court, however, did not try to enforce its order and return A. to the hospital to receive treatment. After his release, A. continued to threaten the applicant and her lawyer until he was arrested again. The district court arranged for psychiatric treatment in accordance to his conviction. Afterwards, the applicant filed a complaint with the Slovakia Constitutional Court arguing that the district court’s failure to place A. in the hospital immediately after his conviction violated her constitutional rights. The Constitutional Court rejected her complaint.
The applicant filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (“Court”) alleging that the government of Slovakia violated Article 8 (the right to respect for private life) and Article 5 (the right to physical liberty) of the European Convention for Human Rights. Further, the applicant sought damages under Article 41. Under a unanimous opinion, the Court concluded that the government violated Article 8 and the Court awarded the applicant damages. It found, however, that there was no violation of Article 5.

Article 8: Right to respect for private and family life
With respect to the applicant’s Article 8 claim, the government argued that it was inadmissible because the applicant did not exhaust all legal remedies available in Slovakia as required by Article 35 of the European Convention. The Court rejected this claim finding that certain relevant legal options would have been inapplicable to this case because A.’s conduct occurred before they became established. The Court also concluded that the government failed to show that the applicant had guaranteed access to legal remedies that would have protected her from A. and the remedies would have had at least some prospects of success. Notably the Court also took into consideration the applicant’s vulnerability as a domestic violence victim and the need for state protection to be practical and effective.

After determining the admissibility of the Article 8 claim, the Court considered its merits and held that Slovakia violated the article. Once again, the Court noted the need for active State involvement for the protection of domestic violence victims because of their particular vulnerability. Because the district court failed to order A’s detention for psychiatric treatment after his conviction, Slovakia did not protect the applicant from A. as mandated by Article 8 (States have the duty to protect individuals from the harmful conduct of others). The government had reason to know (due to the criminal proceedings) that A. was a danger to the applicant.

When arriving at this conclusion, the Court noted that its previous judgments with similar findings had focused on cases in which the failure of state protection for a domestic violence victim led to the physical harm of the victim (Bevacqua and S. v. Bulgaria, no. 71127/01) or even death (Kontrová v. Slovakia, no. 7510/04, and Opuz v. Turkey , no. 33401/02). Although A. did not physically harm the applicant after he was discharged from the hospital, the Court reasoned that his threats were significant enough to harm the applicant’s psychological integrity and well –being. This type of harm is sufficient for requiring Slovakia to have undertaken measures to prevent the harm from occurring.

Article 5: Right to liberty and security
The Court rejected the applicant’s claim that the government violated her Article 5 rights. Because the article is concerned with a person’s physical liberty as opposed to physical security, the Court concluded the article is irrelevant to the case.

Under a unanimous opinion, the European Court of Human Rights (“Court”) concluded that the applicant’s Article 8 claim was admissible and the government of Slovakia violated Article 8. The Court awarded the applicant damages with interest; $4000 Euros were awarded as non-pecuniary damages and $1000 Euros were awarded for costs and expenses. The Court found, however, that there was no violation of Article 5.

Related decisions:

González Carreño v. Spain, Communication No. 47/2012
Spain, 16-07-2014

González Carreño v. Spain, Communication No. 47/2012

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T.M and C.M v. The Republic of Moldova
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T.M and C.M v. The Republic of Moldova

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The European Court of Human Rights found that the State’s failure to protect women against domestic violence breaches their right to equal protection of the law and that this failure does not need to be intentional. The Court noted that the...

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