The ineffective and long-term investigation of sexual abuse is a breach of family life
Μ.S. v. Ukraine 11-07-2017 (no. 2091/13)
Sexual abuse. Residence of a minor. Research. The case concerned the investigation of the alleged sexual abuse of the daughter and the determination of her place of residence.
In a random examination, the father of the minor pupil discovered that the child had been sexually abused, and despite the nuisance of the authorities, they refused to initiate criminal proceedings. Finally, with the intervention of the prosecutors, the investigation cycle opened.
Based on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Mr M.S. complained that the investigation into the sexual abuse of his daughter was ineffective. The ECtHR found a violation of Article 8 of the ECHR.
The applicant, Mr M.S., is a Ukrainian national who was born in 1986 and lives in Sumy (Ukraine). The case concerned the investigation into alleged sexual abuse of his daughter and the determination of her place of residence.
Mr M.S. had a daughter with V. in March 2008 and the two married a short time thereafter. Their relationship deteriorated and in September 2011 V. moved with their daughter to live in a nearby village. In December 2011, Mr M.S. found his daughter in a child care centre and took her for a medical examination which revealed several injuries. The child allegedly reported the injuries had been caused by her mother, but the police refused to open a criminal investigation into either alleged abduction or abuse.
In March and April 2012, Mr M.S.’s mother requested that the authorities bring criminal proceedings against V. because she suspected the child may have been a victim of sexual abuse. During an interview, the child described having seen V. and V.’s uncle engage in sexual activity on several occasions. She also described sex acts she had been made to do. The police refused to open criminal proceedings on three occasions in 2012, but the refusals were quashed by prosecutors. A full-scale investigation into sexual abuse was launched in May 2013. After numerous delays the investigation was still ongoing as of January 2016.
In the meantime, in June 2012 the District Court had dissolved the marriage of Mr M.S. and V. and ruled that their daughter should live with her mother. This decision was upheld on appeal before both the Regional Court of Appeal and the Higher Specialised Court for Civil and Criminal Matters.
Relying in essence on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Mr M.S. complained that the investigation into the sexual abuse of his daughter had been ineffective. He further complained under this article that the domestic courts had failed to properly examine all of the relevant circumstances when determining his daughter’s place of residence during the relevant civil proceedings.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 8 – on account of the lack of an effective investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of Mr M.S.’s child
Violation of Article 8 – in respect of the determination of the applicant’s child’s place of residence
Just satisfaction: EUR 7,000 (non-pecuniary damage), and EUR 27 for costs and expenses (echrcaselaw.com editing).