Back

Justice for the mother of two murdered children

Kontrová v. Slovakia  | 2007

Justice for the mother of two murdered children

… she is the victim of a tyrant …

Dana Kontrová’s mother, quoted by Pluska - © Photo Topsky.sk

Background

For years Dana Kontrová was subjected to psychological and physical attacks from her husband. She repeatedly warned the police that he was violent and mentally unstable.

One complaint came after Ms Kontrová’s husband beat her with an electric cable. Two months later, the police were telephoned and warned that he had a shotgun and was threatening to kill himself and the children.

Under Slovak law, the police should have launched a criminal investigation and taken steps to protect the family. However, they did neither of these things.

Two days later the man took a shotgun and murdered the couple’s two children, aged five and one.  He then turned the gun on himself.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, the state has a duty to protect the lives of its citizens when they are under threat. The court ruled that the police had failed to do so in this case, even though they had received clear warnings and had been obliged to take action under Slovak law.

The inaction of the authorities had breached the right to life. 

the direct consequence of these failures was the death of the applicant's children

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, May 2007

Follow-up

Dana was awarded compensation. She moved to the Czech Republic and started a new family.

The Slovak government took steps to ensure that all relevant authorities were made aware of these events and the need for a better police response. The European court’s judgment was sent to all regional courts, the chief of police and all directors of district police offices.  


Related examples

Failure to investigate death of a disabled man in police custody leads to reforms

Valdis Jasinskis was deaf and mute. He fell down some stairs outside a party and banged his head. The police were told about his injury and his disability, but they locked him in a cell and ignored his attempts to communicate. Mr Jasinskis later died in hospital, and the incident was not properly investigated. This led to a series of measures to help make sure that the police can be properly...

Read more

15-year-old boy stabbed to death outside a school after authorities failed to act

The director of a school asked for the police to be present outside his school gates, due to significant problems between young people. No help was provided. 15 year-old Sedat Kayak was stabbed to death by another student just outside the school. The European court ruled that the authorities had failed in their duty to protect children. The case led to a series of reforms to help prevent school...

Read more

Death of a detainee leads to changes to medical practices in prison

A young man suffering from psychosis and depression was imprisoned for theft. Whilst in jail, he committed suicide. The Strasbourg court ruled that the authorities had not done enough to protect his life. New rules were set up to help prison staff prevent inmates committing suicide.

Read more

"Totally insufficient" investigation of a suspicious death and the reform of criminal investigations

Tatiana Trufin’s brother was killed in suspicious circumstances. Despite evidence of an attack, the authorities did very little to investigate for the next 12 years. The Strasbourg court ruled that their efforts had been totally insufficient. This influenced reforms to improve the effectiveness of criminal investigations in Romania.

Read more