ECHR finds Turkey guilty of violating right to life in femicide case

ECHR finds Turkey guilty of violating right to life in femicide case

ECHR finds Turkey guilty of violating right to life in femicide case

Selma Civek (L) with her daughter Pınar Civek (R) in an undated photo.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to life in a case regarding a woman murdered by her husband after filing numerous complaints with the police over the man’s death threats and harassment. 

“The court found, in particular, that even though the Turkish authorities had been informed of the genuine and serious threat to Ms. Civek’s life and despite her continued complaints of threats and harassment, they had failed to take the measures reasonably available to them in order to prevent her being murdered by her husband,” the press release issued on Feb. 23 by the ECHR said. 

The case was brought to court on July 2011 by the children of the victim, Selma Civek, who claimed that Turkish authorities failed in their obligation to protect Civek’s life. The applicants also complained that their mother faced discrimination on grounds of sex, which constituted a breach of article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the prohibition of discrimination. 

The press release established the principal facts of the case, explaining that Civek had filed three complaints throughout 2010 over renewed domestic violence, harassment and death threats. Her husband, identified as H.C., was remanded in custody on Oct. 14 of the same year over domestic violence, but was released from custody under judicial supervision on Nov. 12. A month later, on Jan. 14, 2011, H.C. stabbed Civek 22 times, murdering her on a street.  

“They [the authorities] ought by law to have acted of their own motion to protect Ms. Civek’s life,” the court said, given H.C. had been released from custody and was “free to murder her in the street on Jan. 14, 2011.”

“The state prosecutor took no practical action to provide Ms. Civek with effective protection, even though the husband could legitimately have been arrested for failing to comply with court orders, the victim’s children having confirmed their mother’s statements,” it added. 

According to the court’s ruling, Turkey is set to pay 50,000 euros to the applicants as non-pecuniary damage, in addition to some 3,000 euros for costs and expenses. 

Femicide is a growing concern in Turkey, where more than 1,100 women were killed by men over the past five years, according to data collected by a website dedicated to tracking femicide victims called In 608 cases, the murderers were husbands or ex-husbands of the victims while in 141 cases, the women applied to a public institution demanding protection from assault and/or threats. In 217 cases, there were systematic violent assault and/or verbal threats before the murders took place.