T.S. v. Russia: CEDAW did not consider re-victimization and effectiveness of domestic remedies

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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Palais Wilson, Geneva

Earlier this year, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Committee) handed down a case on violence against women in the matter of T.S. v. Russia. The communication, which concerned the criminal investigation of a rape case, was declared inadmissible since domestic remedies were not exhausted (Article 4(1) of the Optional Protocol). Despite evidence that the author was re-victimized, the Committee found that the domestic investigations “could not be categorized as improper or otherwise ineffective.” By not considering re-victimization, the Committee missed an opportunity to analyze the exhaustion of domestic remedies requirement from a gender perspective.

The case was brought by T.S., who was raped by an acquaintance, V.S., with whom she went out a couple of times. In summer 2012, V.S. invited her to his apartment where he asked her to have sexual intercourse with him. When she refused, he became aggressive, undressed her, pushed her on the bed and raped her. T.S. was in shock thereafter and unable to leave the apartment. She spent the night in V.S.’s apartment and left the next day. Shortly after the incident, T.S. visited the Crisis Center for Women, a non-governmental organization, where she received counseling.

Two months after the incident, she filed a complaint before the Saint Petersburg investigation department, which instructed the Kalininsky district investigating agency to conduct a preliminary examination. This examination was closed for lack of evidence and T.S. lodged a complaint before the district court. The district court ordered the investigating agency to carry out another investigation that was again terminated. T.S. lodged two more complaints to the district court that lead to re-investigations by the same agency. Both investigations were eventually terminated. When she lodged a fourth complaint to the district court, the investigator opened the now fifth investigation proprio motu. The district court therefore closed the case. The city court, to which T.S. appealed, upheld the district court’s decision by reasoning that an investigation was underway. However, also this investigation was closed without a meaningful result and T.S. applied to the Committee. Continue reading

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