Eremia v. the Republic of Moldova |2013

More support for victims after mother and daughters win domestic violence case

According to the ECHR, children who witness domestic violence suffer psychological trauma and the state owes them protection.

Doina Ioana Străisteanu, the applicants’ lawyer, quoted on RFE/RL


A judge granted Lilia Eremia a restraining order against her abusive husband, who would often come home drunk and beat her, sometimes in front of their teenage daughters, Doina and Mariana. 

The two girls felt helpless. Their father, who was a serving police officer, was ordered to stay away from the family home.

On one occasion, Lilia’s husband accosted her when she was walking down the street. Several days later, he forced his way into her home, in breach of the restraining order, assaulted Lilia and verbally abused Mariana. 

Lilia reported these incidents but said the police pressured her into withdrawing her complaint. They warned her that her husband would lose his job if he was convicted, and this would harm their daughters’ life chances. 

The next day, Lilia’s husband once again breached the restraining order by coming to the family home. He beat Lilia and threatened to kill her. 

Prosecutors finally opened a criminal investigation, but then suspended it for a year on the condition that it would be reopened if Lilia’s abusive husband committed another offence during that time. They said that the man “did not represent a danger to society.”

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that the Moldovan authorities had not taken effective measures to protect Lilia or to prevent her two daughters suffering psychological harm from witnessing their father’s violence against their mother. This violated their rights. 

Moldova also discriminated against Lilia, as a woman, by repeatedly condoning the violence and taking a sexist attitude towards her.

The absence of decisive action by the authorities . . . is even more disturbing considering that the aggressor was a police officer whose professional requirements included . . . the protection of the rights of others, the prevention of crime and the protection of public order.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, May 2013


The Moldovan government responded to the European court’s ruling by providing more protection to Lilia, Doina, and Mariana. There have been no new reports of violence since. 

Moldova has also taken a series of steps to tackle domestic violence more generally following the judgment in this case:

  • In 2017, Moldova signed the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (“Istanbul Convention”). 
  • Moldova changed its laws on domestic violence. These changes, which have been in force since 2016, provide better support to victims of domestic violence and tougher sanctions against perpetrators, including criminal penalties for breaching a restraining order.
  • The Moldovan authorities have organised training courses for judges, prosecutors, and police on preventing domestic violence as well as awareness-raising and public information campaigns.

Although initial progress has been achieved, systemic issues relating to domestic violence in Moldova have not yet been fully resolved and remain under the supervision of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers. The Moldovan authorities are expected to take further action in due course.


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