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Court: Romania’s criminal law system failed 14 year old girl over rape allegations

A woman who alleges that she was gang-raped as a teenager and later failed by Romania’s legal authorities, has been awarded €12,000 by human rights judges today.

They accepted that the country’s criminal-law system did not effectively investigate and punish the alleged rape of the 22 year old woman when she was just 14-years old and suffering with an intellectual disability.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of I.C. v. Romania (application no. 36934/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held that Romania was to pay Ms I.C. 12,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

The court considered that the Romanian authorities had put undue emphasis on the lack of proof that I.C., the applicant, had shown resistance during the incident, basing their conclusions only on the statements given by the alleged rapists in which they claimed that the girl had consented to having sexual intercourse, taken together with the fact that her body had shown no signs of violence.

Furthermore, neither the prosecutors nor the judges deciding on the case had taken a context-sensitive approach, failing to take into account her young age, her slight intellectual disability and the fact that the alleged rape, involving three men, had taken place at night in cold weather – all factors which had heightened her vulnerability.

Indeed, particular attention should have been focused on analysing the validity of I.C.’s consent to the sexual acts in the light of her slight intellectual disability. In that context, the nature of the alleged sexual abuse against I.C. had been such that the existence of useful detection and reporting mechanisms had been fundamental to the effective implementation of the relevant criminal laws and to her access to appropriate remedies.

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