The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has awarded 20,000 euros in compensation for moral damages and 13,553 euros in material damages to a 12-year-old Russian girl who was summoned for questioning 23 times during the investigation of her sexual assault case. The court published the decision on its website.
The court ruled that the Russian investigators had violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The girl, V., lived with her mother in their female relative's apartment, the Legal Initiative Project reports. When her mother died, her father refused to take care of her, and she was sent to an orphanage. At the orphanage, V. told the psychologist that she had been sexually abused by an adult man. The girl was examined by a gynecologist, who found no injuries, and the specialists suggested that the girl should “forget everything”.
As the girl shared at the counseling sessions, when she was aged 6-11, she was repeatedly abused by four men who came to visit the women and stayed the night. “One of the men threatened V. he would kill her mother if the girl told anyone about the abuse,” Legal Initiative writes.
Based on the girl's testimony, four statutory rape cases were opened. Investigators, attorneys, experts, and judges forced the girl to recount the instances of abuse as many as 23 times. Among those who questioned her, there was only one woman.
In 2020, V. was diagnosed with a “prolonged depressive reaction” and was advised against further participation in the investigation and trials, which had been ongoing for over 18 months. Nevertheless, the investigators and the judges questioned her five more times.