Forthcoming judgment against Slovenia

The European Court of Human Rights will on 23 January 2014 deliver an important judgment in case of W. v Slovenia (no.24124/06) on internal domestic remedial measures for violation of Article 6. Here is the summary :

The applicant, Ms W., is a Slovenian national who was born in 1971 and lives in Maribor (Slovenia). The case concerns criminal proceedings against a group of men who raped her in April 1990, when she was 18 years old. Charges of rape, aiding and abetting rape and sexual assault, respectively, were brought against ten men in September 1990. In November 1990 they were acquitted, based on the findings, in particular, that Ms W. had not seriously resisted sexual intercourse and that she had changed her testimony during the proceedings. On appeal, the second-instance court quashed the judgment in April 1991, finding that the facts had been insufficiently established, and remitted the case. Subsequently there were long delays in the proceedings, since two of the defendants had left the country and could not be found. After the proceedings against the two missing men had been severed into separate cases, six of the remaining defendants were convicted, of rape and aggravated rape respectively, and sentenced to imprisonment for between eight months and one year in a judgment of June 2002, eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2007. The missing defendants were eventually found and extradited to Slovenia in 2003 and 2004 and they were convicted of aiding and abetting rape and of aggravated rape, respectively, and both sentenced to imprisonment of eight months by judgments which became final in August 2004 and June 2006. Relying, in substance, on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Ms W. complains in particular that the long delays in the criminal proceedings were in breach of the State’s obligation to effectively prosecute the criminal offences committed against her. While she was awarded compensation at national level for the distress she suffered as a result of the lengthy proceedings, she considers that the amount of 5,000 euros paid to her cannot be regarded assufficient redress.

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