GYLA appeals to European Court in a case of domestic violence and willful homicide

3 February 2015

On 23 January 2015 the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, with the cooperation of the European Human Right Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) and the Partnership for Human Rights, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights concerning the case of Salome Jorbenadze.  This case, if successful, will be the first time that the European Court examines a claim of violence against women in Georgia. Salome Jorbenadze was twenty when her ex-husband, a police officer, shot and killed her with his police firearm on 25 July 2014. Salome is one of over 25 women who were killed in 2014 by their partners or former partners. Salome’s three-year-old son is now an orphan.

The ‘marriage’ between Salome and Sergi Satseradze began in violence: in 2011, at the age of 17, she was kidnapped by Satseradze at gunpoint, and though they were never legally married, in practice she became his wife. During the marriage, and even after their separation, Satseradze routinely behaved aggressively towards Salome; he would hit her and spit at her, as well as verbally abuse her and her family. He continually flaunted his police gun and threatened her with it on numerous occasions, eventually shooting her dead in the local park. He is accused of willful homicide (paragraph 108 of the Criminal Code).

Salome had repeatedly made reports of domestic violence to the Zestafoni Police, the Prosecutor’s Office and the General Inspection of the Ministry of Justice. Her parents had also sought police help. However, the level of collusion between Satseradze and his colleagues in the police service made it clear that Salome and her family would receive no protection from them. None of the preventive and protective measures required by law was taken.

Salome’s treatment by the police and the prosecutor’s office is also indicative of gender discrimination; the police did not assess the potential gravity of the violence against her, nor were these instances of violence documented in the police report. Instead of following the prescribed protocol on domestic violence, the police officers insulted and humiliated her, implying it was a normal part of marriage. The Prosecutor’s Office did not regard the domestic violence, or the threat to kill Salome by a police officer, as warranting prosecution in the public interest.

The GYLA’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is based on the following articles of the European Convention: Article 2 (Right to life), Article 3 (Prohibition of torture), Article 8 (Right to respect for private and family life), and Article 14 (Prohibition of discrimination).