It is crucial for victims to receive legal assistance in cases linked closely to domestic violence. Legal assistance is very important in civil court proceedings and in cases of divorce and child custody, due to procedural complexity.
Women who are victims of domestic violence have the right to receive state-funded women’s support centre services which also include legal help to assist the victim to safely exit an abusive relationship.
In addition, any victims of domestic violence who are unable to pay for competent legal services due to their financial situation at the time, can be granted state-funded legal aid based on application. This legal aid could entail, for example, filing for divorce, child custody and child support, and the division of spousal property if such claims are related to the case of temporary protection against violence, as well as assistance in criminal proceedings.
This legal aid is regulated by the State-funded Legal Aid Act, which sets out the conditions for granting legal aid, including how the financial situation of the applicant is assessed. The form for applying for state legal aid is accessible on the website of the Ministry of Justice as well as in each court and law office. It includes the personal details of the applicant, a description of the problem, the type of state legal aid, the reasons why state legal aid is necessary to protect the rights of the applicant, and other information listed in the State-funded Legal Aid Act. The application for state legal aid must be submitted to the court conducting proceedings in the case or the court that would be competent to conduct the proceedings.
Which human rights violations may there be?
The ability or failure of the State to provide help and assistance to victims of domestic violence should be seen in the light of the due diligence standard. It may result in a violation of human rights where state or municipal institutions deny funded help or assistance to a victim without lawful grounds.
The right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and the right to private and family life
The State’s failure to provide help and a support system for domestic violence victims may, in certain cases, result in a violation of the right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and the right to private and family life.
Prohibition of discrimination
Domestic violence is considered to be a form of discrimination against women, as it affects mainly women. If the State (in this case – the pertinent authorities) fails to effectively respond and provide help and support to the victims of domestic violence in cases of immediate threats to their lives, freedom or health, it may result in a violation of the prohibition of discrimination in conjunction with a violation of the right to life and/or the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment, and the right to private and family life.
Right to a fair trial
Under certain conditions, the victims of domestic violence have the right to free legal aid in criminal or civil proceedings. If the failure of the State to ensure such legal aid has resulted in an unfair process for the victim, it may lead to a violation of the right to fair trial.
Articles 6, 7
Articles 65 - 68
Articles 2, 3, 8, 14
15 February 2005