Women and Justice: Jurisdiction

International Case Law

O.G. v. Russian Federation CEDAW Committee (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

O.G. was in a civil partnership with K. who used drugs and alcohol and had a gambling addiction.  After O.G. left him, he sent her harassing texts, attempted to visit her, and when she refused to let him in her building, he hit her.  She reported the events to a Crisis Center for Women.  K. was sentenced to four months of labor which was suspended to a six-month probation and ordered to pay $50.  After his release, he continued to send texts to O.G. threatening to kill her.  She filed seven criminal complaints with the police, who took no action claiming there was nothing they could do because K. would not come to the police station and he was not acting on his threats.  O.G. filed a complaint with CEDAW alleging that the Russian Federation failed to fully implement the Convention by not introducing legislation on domestic violence, and that the authorities had violated her rights under the Convention by not responding adequately to her claims or implementing protective orders to ensure her safety, not providing any effective remedy or psychological support, not conducting meaningful investigation, and allowing prosecution to be time barred due to a two-year statute of limitation.  The Committee decided in O.G.’s favor, rejecting the Russian authority’s argument that O.G.’s claim to be a domestic violence victim was unsubstantiated because he was not a member of her family at the time of the alleged violence, finding that there is no statutory time limit on how long after the end of a relationship a partner can claim that violence falls within this definition.  The Committee determined that Russia had not adopted comprehensive legislation to prevent and address violence against women, and noted recent amendments to national legislation that decriminalized battery under which many domestic violence cases are prosecuted due to the absence of a definition of “domestic violence.”  This failure to amend legislation relating to domestic violence directly affected O.G.’s access to remedies and protection.  The Committee determined Russia violated O.G.’s rights under articles 1, 2 (b)-(g), 3 and 5 (a) of the Convention. It recommended that Russia provide financial compensation to O.G., adopt comprehensive legislation to prevent and address violence against women, including domestic violence, reinstate criminal prosecution of domestic violence, introduce a protocol for handling domestic violence complaints at the police station level to ensure adequate protection, renounce private prosecution in domestic violence cases, ratify the Istanbul Convention, provide mandatory training for judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on the Convention and related documents, investigate allegations of gender-based violence against women promptly and provide safe and prompt access to justice, provide rehabilitation programs to offenders, and develop and implement effective measures with relevant stakeholders such as women’s organizations, to address stereotypes and practices that condone or promote domestic violence.  A written response and report on actions taken was due to the Committee within six months. (Available in English, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish.)

Domestic Case Law

E.V. Gavrilov vs. Public Prosecutor The Court of the City of Moscow (2010)

Trafficking in persons

E.V. Gavrilov and his associates ran a brothel. He offered a well-paid job in a night club in Moscow to three girls, who, to the best knowledge of Gavrilov, were minors. Later he and other associate bought tickets for the girls and carried them to Moscow. On the way to Moscow the girls asked several times whether the job was related to prostitution, but Gavrilov always said that it was not. Upon arrival, the victims were moved to a private apartment. There they were threatened by Gavrilov and forced to engage in prostitution. Gavrilov organized the brothel, and his associates carried girls to clients and guarded them. Gavrilov pled not guilty, claiming that he did not use violence against the victims and did not run a brothel. The Moscow district court of Chuvashia found Gavrilov guilty of the following crimes: involvement in and enforcement to prostitution connected with use of force or threat of using force performed by a group of individuals by previous concert with knowledge that victims were minors.  The court of the City of Moscow confirmed the decision of the court of first instance.