Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

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  • Akbak v. Austria , Austria, CEDAW Committee, 2007.
    Fatma Yildirim sought to divorce her husband who threatened to kill her and her children if she ever initiated divorce proceedings. In response to Yildirim’s numerous reports of assault and dangerous criminal threats, the Austrian police issued an expulsion and prohibition-to-return order against her husband. The police also recommended that her husband be detained, but the Vienna Public Prosecutor twice denied the request. Yildirim appealed to the Vienna Intervention Center after her husband repeatedly came to her workplace to harass and threaten her; the Center asked the police to pay more attention to Yildirim’s case. When Yildirim finally filed a petition for divorce at the Vienna District Court of Hernals, her husband followed her home from work and fatally stabbed her. The complaint stated that the State’s action violated article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) because the Austrian criminal justice system negatively impacts women through the public prosecutors’ failure to treat cases of domestic violence seriously. The complaint also cited the failure of judicial officials and law enforcement to collect data and maintain statistics on domestic violence instances denied Yildirim the enjoyment of her human rights in violation of article 2 and 3 of CEDAW on eliminating laws, regulations, and customs that adversely effect women . Finally, the complaint stated a violation of article 5 of the Convention on eliminating social and cultural attitudes towards women in the State’s continual treatment of domestic violence as a social or domestic problem rather than a serious crime. The Committee held that the Austrian police force’s failure to detain Yildirim’s husband was in breach of the State’s due diligence obligation to protect Yildirim, noting that a perpetrator’s rights cannot superseded women’s human rights to life and to physical and mental integrity. The Committee also took note of the correlation between lenient attitudes towards women’s cultural subordination and domestic violence. Although Austria prosecuted Yildirim’s husband to the fullest extent for her death, the Committee found violations of articles 2, 3, and 5 and recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Prevention against Violence within the Family, and ensure enhanced coordination between police and judicial officers to protect women victims of gender-based violence.
  • Goekce v. Austria , Austria, CEDAW Committee, 2007.
    Sahide Goekce’s husband shot and killed her in front of their two daughters in 2002. Before her death, Ms. Goekce had obtained three expulsion and prohibition-to-return orders against her husband in response to repeated episodes of domestic violence. The Vienna Public Prosecutor denied police requests to detain Mr. Goekce, and stopped the prosecution against him on the basis of insufficient grounds of prosecution two days before Ms. Goekce’s death. Police reports show that the law enforcement failed to respond in a timely fashion to the dispute that resulted in Ms. Goekce’s death. The complaint to the Committee on behalf of the decedent stated that Austria’s Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family provides ineffective protection for victims of repeated, severe spousal abuse and that women are disproportionately affected by the State’s failure to prosecute and take seriously reports of domestic violence. The Committee found that although Austria has established a comprehensive model to address domestic violence, it is necessary for State actors to investigate reports of this crime with due diligence to effectively provide redress and protection. The Committee concluded that the police knew or should have know that Ms. Goekce was in serious danger, and were therefore accountable for failing to exercise due diligence in protecting her. By allowing the perpetrator’s rights to supersede Ms. Goekce’s human rights to life and to physical and mental integrity, Austrian law enforcement violated it obligations under article 2 to end gender discrimination through the modification or enactment of appropriate legislation, and its article 3 obligation to guarantee women’s exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedom on a basis of equality with men. The Committee recommended that Austria strengthen its implementation and monitoring of the Federal Act for the Protection against Violence within the Family, respond to complaints of domestic violence with due diligence, and provide adequate sanctions for failure to do so.
  • Yildirim v. Austria, Austria, CEDAW Committee, 2007.
    The Vienna Intervention Centre and the Association for Women’s Access to Justice submitted a communication to the CmEDAW on behalf of F.Y, the deceased victim who was reportedly abused and threatened with physical violence and death by her husband I.Y, for a period of three months, culminating in him fatally stabbing her. They alleged that Austria had violated Articles 1, 2, 3 and 5 of CEDAW by failing to take appropriate positive measures to protect F.Y’s right to life and personal security, in particular, by failing to effectively communicate between the police and the Public Prosecutor, and order I.Y’s detention. They also contended that Austria had failed to fulfill its obligations in General Recommendations No.’s 12, 19 and 21, and argued that the failures of the current methods of addressing domestic violence in Austria disproportionately affect women. The Committee concluded that Austria had violated its obligations under Articles1, 2(a), (c) through (f) and 3 of CEDAW, read in conjunction with General Recommendation No. 19. The fact that I.Y. was prosecuted to the full extent of the law did not prevent the failure to detain him prior to the murder from constituting a breach of the State Party’s due diligence obligation. The Committee emphasized that in cases of violence against women, “the perpetrators rights cannot supersede women’s rights to life and physical and mental integrity.” The Committee further recommended Austria to strengthen the implementation and monitoring of relevant law and ensure that the available criminal and civil remedies are employed vigilantly and quickly in cases of domestic violence where the perpetrator poses a dangerous threat.
  • Vienna Intervention Centre against Domestic Violence on behalf of Banu Akbak, Gulen Khan, and Melissa Ozdemir v. Austria, Austria, CEDAW Committee, 2005.
    The Committee held that failure to detain perpetrator was breach of State's obligation to protect victim of domestic violence, especially because perpetrator's rights cannot supersede woman's human rights to life and physical and mental integrity.  
  • Vienna Intervention Centre Against Domestic Violence on behalf of Hakan Goekce, Handan Goekce, and Guelue Goekce v. Austria, Austria, CEDAW Committee, 2005.
    The Committee held State had violated its obligations under articles 2 and 3 of the Convention and general recommendation No. 19 due to police failure to exercise due diligence to protect Sahide Goekce in spite of the long record of earlier disturbances and battering.