The Police and Border Guard Board is a law enforcement institution which is entitled to react to domestic violence cases if a person’s safety, health or life is endangered. Police have the right to impose a prohibition on stay to in the case of an immediate threat, including in domestic violence cases, and ensure the safety of victims from further attacks by the perpetrator.

It is important to recognize that domestic violence is not just a “family conflict” or “an argument”, but is a serious violation of a person’s right to safety and physical and psychological integrity. Victims of domestic violence do not forfeit those human rights by commencing relationships with their partners or spouses. Therefore, the State has an obligation to protect victims of domestic violence and to treat domestic abuse as a crime.

The police have a legal obligation to respond to domestic violence cases. Therefore, if you are a victim of domestic violence and your safety, health or life is endangered, you have the right to call the police (112) for your protection. In fact, police officers are the first to respond in most domestic violence cases.

Who can call the police?

There might be situations during a domestic assault where the victim does not have an opportunity to call the police. Many victims of domestic violence report that as soon as they pick up the phone to call the police, the perpetrator takes their phone away, or the victim of domestic violence may be too scared to turn to the police because of intimidation by the perpetrator.

important The call and report can also be made after the physical violence has occurred and when the victim has a chance to turn for help.

The call to the police does not need to be made by the victims themselves. It can be made by any witness of the domestic violence, e.g., neighbours who have heard the assault or a child who is a witness to domestic violence and therefore also a victim him/herself. There are cases where the victim of domestic assault does not have an opportunity to make a direct call to 112, but can send a message to a friend or other family member, who can then call the police and report the assault, to which the police then have an obligation to respond.

A child also has the right to make a phone call when he/she is a direct victim of physical, sexual or other type of violence. There is no requirement for the representation of a legal guardian for a child to call 112, and the police should respond to that call.

Obligations of the police

After the call has been made, the police have an obligation to attend the scene. When the police have arrived at the domestic violence scene, they have the right to impose a prohibition on stay to remove and ban the perpetrator from his/her residence for up to 12 hours (or longer with the authorisation of a prefect), in the case of a continued or repeated domestic assault risk situation.

Which human rights violations may there be?

Facing the reality that not every police officer is trained on the procedures for performing in domestic violence cases, the risk of a violation of human rights may occur due to the failure of the police to ensure the victim’s safety. For example, the failure of a police officer to distinguish a primary aggressor and a victim and to issue a prohibition on stay aiming to protect a victim, not a perpetrator, may result in continued violence against the real victim.

The State must exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against victims in accordance with national legislation, whether those acts are perpetrated by State officials or by private individuals. Police failure to provide an adequate response to domestic violence cases may be considered a failure by the State to ensure safety for victims. 

The Right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and the right to private and family life

Operational measures which police must apply to protect a victim and her/his children are a remedy that the State must use to enforce victims’ human rights. If the police fail to adequately respond to a domestic violence situation, it may 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 police) fails to effectively respond and provide protection 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. 


Last updated 08/09/2021