Experts of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on Thursday said that a Spanish Supreme Court case set milestone in international human rights law.
In its decision, the Spanish Supreme Court found for a victim of domestic violence, enforced compliance with the committee’s recommendations and recognized the violation of the victim’s rights by Spain, ordering the government to pay €600,000 as compensation for the moral damages the victim had suffered.
This case can be traced back to the CEDAW’s decision in an individual complaint case brought by Angela González Carreño against Spain. According to CEDAW’s documents on the case, an innocent three-year-old girl was murdered by her father despite repeated complaints by her mother, Ms. González Carreño, against the girl’s father to the Spanish legal system, seeking to protect her daughter from having to spend time with her father.
On 24 April 2003, after a judicial hearing on the matter of the use of the family residence, González Carreño’s husband “approached her and told her that he was going to take away what mattered most to her.” Later the same day, the police found the lifeless bodies of the daughter and the father with a weapon in the father’s hand. The police investigation concluded that the father had shot the girl and then committed suicide.
In 2014, after González Carreño took her case to CEDAW, the Committee found that Spain had violated her human rights under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. CEDAW recommended Spain grant González Carreño appropriate reparation and compensation commensurate with the seriousness of the infringement of her rights and strengthen application of the legal framework to ensure that the authorities exercise due diligence to respond appropriately to situations of domestic violence.
González Carreño then took the case to Spain’s Supreme Court to compel Committee’s recommendation. The Spanish supreme court acknowledged that the rights and freedoms of human rights treaties to which Spain is a party should be incorporated into its law and that the findings and recommendations of the Committee are binding.
“This case is a milestone for international human rights law. We hope that Spain will apply the other recommendations we made with regard to custody and visitation rights, the application of due diligence in domestic violence cases and the provision of mandatory training for judges and law enforcement officers,” said Yoko Hayashi, a member of CEDAW.