The Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women has declared that laws requiring domestic violence victims to bring private prosecutions against their abusers without state support are in breach of the Convention.
The Committee reiterated that domestic violence constitutes a grave violation of human rights. Considering the key issue between the parties, the Committee held that “by adjudicating acts of domestic violence through a system of private prosecution, the State party cannot fulfil its due diligence obligation to prevent and punish acts of violence”. It held that “the fact that a victim of domestic violence must resort to private prosecution, where the burden of proof is placed entirely on the victim, denies the victim access to justice”, and could not be considered a proper mechanism to address, prosecute and sanction a crime as serious as domestic violence.
The Committee’s decision can be found here.
Jennifer MacLeod acted unled for Equality Now as an amicus curiae in support of the communication, through A4ID’s pro bono scheme.