Kontrová v. Slovakia

Mrs. Kontrová, (the claimant) a married women with two children, filed a criminal complaint against her husband, accusing him of assaulting and beating her with an electric cord. In her complaint, she mentioned the long history of physical and psychological abuse by her husband and submitted a medical report indicating that her latest injuries would prevent her from working for at least seven days. This statement was later modified upon the advice of a police officer, so that it could have been treated as a minor offence and the police decided to take no further action. One month later, the Police Department received two night emergency calls reporting that Mrs. Kontrová’s husband had a shotgun and was threatening to kill himself and the children. Despite the fact that the following morning Mrs. Kontrová went to the police station and inquired about her criminal complaint from the previous month as well as the incident of the previous night, the police took no further action and no new criminal complaint was filed. Four days later, Mrs. Kontrová’s husband shot and killed their two children and himself. Criminal proceedings initiated against the police officers involved in the case on the grounds of dereliction of duty produced no tangible results, and Mrs. Kontrová’s complaints lodged in the Constitutional Court were dismissed twice on the grounds that they were inadmissible. Mrs. Kontrová filed a claim with the European Court of Human Rights alleging a breach of the protection of her rights to life, privacy, a fair trial and right for an effective remedy. The local police department knew all about Mrs. Kontrová and her family, which triggered various specific obligations, such as registering the complaint, launching a criminal investigation and commencing criminal proceedings against Mrs. Kontrová’s husband, which the police failed to do. The direct consequence of this was the death of Mrs. Kontrová’s children and husband. The European Court further held that the Slovak Republic failed to fulfill its obligation to achieve an ‘effective’ remedy and Mrs. Kontrová’s compensation. The only action available to Mrs. Kontrová related to the protection of her personal integrity and this provided her with no such remedy. This amounted to a breach of right to an effective remedy , in connection with a breach right to life. The European Court held that an examination of the other Articles was not necessary and awarded her EUR 25,000 in damages.




European Court of Human Rights

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