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Librarian strangled and beaten by her partner wins justice for domestic violence victims

Valiulienė v. Lithuania  | 2013

Librarian strangled and beaten by her partner wins justice for domestic violence victims

She submitted that she had been strangled, pulled by the hair, hit in the face and kicked in the back and in other parts of her body.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, March 2013

Background

Loreta Valiulienė was 25 when she complained to the authorities about suffering domestic violence at the hands of her live-in partner. She said that he had strangled her, pulled her by her hair, hit her in the face and kicked her all over her body.

Ms Valiulienė had provided specific descriptions of the incidents and the names of witnesses. Nevertheless, the prosecutor repeatedly failed to investigate properly and tried to shut the investigation down. These attempts were blocked by a judge. However, delays in the case meant that the prosecution eventually became time-barred.

Ms Valiulienė argued that the authorities’ failure to act had denied her justice and given her partner impunity to carry out more violence.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The court ruled that Ms Valiulienė had done everything in her power to get justice. Nevertheless, the failures of the authorities had meant that her partner had never had to face the allegations of committing violence against her. This had violated her basic rights.

 … all the attempts by the applicant to have her attacker prosecuted were futile.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, March 2013

Follow-up

Ms Valiulienė was awarded compensation.

Following the European court’s judgment, the Prosecutor General and Police Commissioner General enacted a series of legal acts to combat domestic violence in Lithuania. These were designed to ensure that prosecutors make swift and informed decisions on prosecution and to eliminate the faults of the pre-trail investigations of domestic violence. They also required that police protect alleged victims, that their investigations are fully effective, and that there are sufficient specialists in each operating unit of police headquarters.

Finally, a judgment from the Lithuanian Constitutional Court in 2016 established that the expiry of the statutory limitations would not preclude the national court from acting in such a way that the truth in the criminal case would be established.