Women and Justice: Keywords

International Case Law

Izci v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2013)

Gender-based violence in general

A Turkish woman was allegedly attacked by the police following her participation in a peaceful demonstration to celebrate Women’s Day in Istanbul and that such police brutality in Turkey was tolerated and often went unpunished. The ECtHR considered that the police officers had failed to show a certain degree of tolerance and restraint before attempting to disperse a crowd which had neither been violent nor presented a danger to public order,and that the use of disproportionate force against the demonstrators had resulted in the injuring of Ms Izci. Moreover, the failure of the Turkish authorities to find and punish the police officers responsible raised serious doubts as to the State’s compliance with its obligation under the ECHR to carry out effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment. Finally, the use of excessive violence by the police officers had had a dissuasive effect on people’s willingness to demonstrate. The Court reiterated that a great number of applications against Turkey concerning the right to freedom of assembly and/or excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during demonstrations were currently pending. Considering the systemic aspect of the problem, it therefore requested the Turkish authorities to adopt general measures, in accordance with their obligations under Article 46 of the Convention, in order to prevent further similar violations in the future.



Ebcin v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Gender-based violence in general

A teacher was attacked in the street by two individuals who threw acid in her face. She alleged that the authorities had failed to prevent the attack on basis of a report by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation according to which 91 of 143 teacher killings in south-east Turkey between 1984 and 1995 were attributed to the PKK (Workers' Party of Kurdistan, an illegal organization). Her claim for compensation was twice set aside by the Supreme Administrative Court. Her aggressors were not arrested until six years later; the proceedings against the instigator of the aggression lasted over seven years and those against his accomplice were still pending before the Court of Cassation. The ECtHR did not hold the authorities responsible for any failure to take steps to protect the applicant individually due to lack of proof of any intimidation or threats to which she might have been subjected. But the Court found that the administrative and criminal proceedings had failed to provide prompt and adequate protection against a serious act of violence and that there had been a violation of Articles 3 and 8. The Court did not examine the case under Article 6.



Salmanoglu and Polattas v. Turkey European Court of Human Rights (2009)

Custodial violence

The applicants, 16 and 19 years old at the time, were arrested in the context of a police operation against the PKK (the Workers' Party of Kurdistan). Both girls claimed that, during their police custody, they were blindfolded and beaten. N also alleged that she was sexually harassed and, forced to stand for a long time, was deprived of food, water and sleep. P further alleged that she was anal raped. The applicants were examined during their police custody by three doctors who all noted that there was no sign of physical violence to their bodies. Both applicants also had a "virginity test"; the examinations recorded that the girls were still virgins. A month later, P was given a rectal examination; the doctor noted no sign of intercourse. Following complaints made by the two applicants, an investigation was launched by the prosecution authorities, followed by criminal proceedings against the police officers who had questioned the applicants during their police custody. During the first hearing of the case, the girls further submitted that, when brought before the public prosecutor and judge with a view to their being remanded in custody, they had not made statements about their ill-treatment as they were scared. In particular, they both contended that, during certain medical examinations and when they had made statements to the prosecution, the presence of police officers had intimidated them. The accused police officers denied both ill treatment and presence during their medical examinations or the taking down of their statements. The applicants were subsequently both diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. P was further declared as having a major depressive disorder. The applicants subsequently underwent psychotherapy. The domestic courts ultimately acquitted the police officers on the ground that there was insufficient evidence against them. Subsequently, that judgment was quashed; however, the criminal proceedings against the police officers were terminated as the prosecution had become time-barred. In the meantime, the applicants were convicted of membership of an illegal organization and of throwing alcohol. They were sentenced to terms of imprisonment amounting to more than 12 and 18 years, respectively. The ECtHR took consideration of the circumstances of the case as a whole, and in particular the virginity tests carried out without any medical or legal necessity as well as the post-traumatic stress and depressive disorders suffered, and was persuaded that the applicants had been subjected to severe ill-treatment during their detention in police custody, in violation of Article 3. The Court further concluded that the Turkish authorities had not effectively investigated the applicants' allegations of ill-treatment after seven years, in further violation of Article 3. The Court awarded the applicants non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses.



Chile v. Javier Sebastián Parra Godoy Angol Criminal Court (2013)

Gender violence in conflict

While the victim was sleeping, her partner Sebastian Javier Parra Godoy attacked her by striking her in the head. She suffered near-fatal head injuries as a result of the blow. On February 5, 2013, the criminal court in the province of Angol found Mr. Godoy guilty of the crime of attempted intimate femicide. In their ruling, the judges explicitly referenced the fact that the case presented a case of gender-based violence. It concluded that that Parra Godoy had acted as a result of traditional views considering women as subordinate perpetuating stereotypes of violence and coercion. The court stated that in such cases, international standards of human rights such as the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradication of Violence Against Women and the general recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) should apply. The prosecutor Raul Espinoza explained that the main challenge of the case was the absence of direct evidence because the only potential witnesses were the victim, who was sleeping at the time of the attack and who suffered neurological damage which affected her memory, and the victim’s autistic son, who was mentally handicapped. To bring the case, he relied instead on strong circumstantial evidence.



Saadia Ali v. Tunisia CAT Committee (2008)

Gender-based violence in general

Saadia Ali, a dual French/Tunisian citizen, was attempting to obtain an official document from the court of first instance in Tunis when she was taken into custody, stripped of her clothing, and beaten by a prison guard in front of fifty male prisoners for verbally criticizing a Tunisian public official. Upon regaining consciousness, Ali was given a summary trial without due process and a suspended sentence of three months imprisonment for attacking a public official. Ali’s lawyer initiated a complaint with the office of the State prosecutor, which rejected the complaint without further explanation. In her complaint to the Committee Against Torture, Ali alleged violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CAT), and cited violations of internationally recognized standards on the administration of justice and articles 25 and 26 of Tunisia’s Code of Criminal Procedure. The Committee held that Tunisia’s actions towards Ali were tantamount to torture and violated articles 1, 12, 13, 14, and 16 of the Convention. The deliberate infliction of severe pain and suffering upon Ali by Tunisian public officials constituted torture under article 1 and cruel, unusual, or degrading treatment within the meaning of article 16. The Committee also held that the State’s dismissal of the complaint and delay in investigating Ali’s case established a violation of articles 12 and 13, under which a State has the obligation to promptly investigate allegations of torture. The State’s failure to act on the complaint and immediately launch an investigation equated to a breach of the State’s obligations under article 14 to provide redress to victims of torture in the form of restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation.



Domestic Case Law

Chile v. Rodrigo Gacitua Escobar, Criminal Court of Viña del Mar, 2013 Criminal Court of Viña del Mar (2013)

Gender discrimination

The Criminal Court of Viña del Mar sentenced Rodrigo Gacitúa Escobar to life imprisonment for a series of robberies, rapes, and other crimes committed between 2010 and 2012. The prosecutor, Vivian Quiñones, expressed satisfaction at the result, and pointed out the impact of the testimony from the victims. The defense unsuccessfully attempted to discredit the victims’ testimony, including using postings on social media.