Another Death by Domestic Violence: Ombudsman Calls for Better Risk Assessment

Gunay was murdered by her husband on July 13th, 2016.

“Gunay had an argument with her husband and came to me. We were alone at home. Gunay’s husband came and beat both of us and threatened to murder us. I immediately called the police. If the police had reacted adequately, Gunay would be alive now,” said Minakhanim, grandmother of Gunay and a resident of Ponitchala settlement. According to the investigation results, early in the morning, Novraz A, 26, cut Gunay’s throat and disappeared. The young woman died in hospital.

Gunay was 19 years old and had two small children. Her husband had kidnapped her at the age of 13. Nurlana H, the aunt of the murdered girl, said Gunay and her husband lived in poverty and often quarreled. Due to these disagreements, Gunay several times returned to the family home but each time had to go back to her husband because she was afraid. “Last year they had a serious argument but Gunay was so afraid that she returned to his family again. She told me repeatedly that he would kill her and leave her children without a mother.”

Gunay’s grandmother said the couple had their last quarrel 20 days before the murder. After that she came to her father’s home together with the children. The grandmother and Gunay were alone together with the children as Gunay’s parents live in Russia.

“Gunay’s husband came and started beating her. He demanded she go home and threatened to kill her if she refused. I stood between them and he beat me too. I have bruises on my arms to prove it. When he left I called the police, but they didn’t arrest him. In the evening he came and cut my granddaughter’s throat,” Minakhanim said.

The neighbor of the murdered woman, S.K., said the police just took the aggressor’s written promise not to abuse the women but did nothing to prevent the murder.

Representatives of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) said after the threats and abuse were reported, police officers went to Novraz A.’s home and questioned him. The police could have arrested him on the statement of Gunay but the latter refused to sign against her husband; the police could not arrest the aggressor based on the grandmother’s statement.

The Public Defender of Georgia also responded to the murder of the young woman in Ponitchala. In his statement the Ombudsman wrote that “the victim had appealed to the law enforcement agency, which limited its actions only to the use of a warning letter. Despite a number of appeals made by the Public Defender, the vicious practice of application of warning letters has not been eliminated. This is also proved by the cases studied by the Public Defender's Office. In addition, no individual risk assessment is carried out so as to prevent the recurrence of cases.”

According to the MIA, eight women have died as a result of domestic violence since January 2016.

Representative of the organization Partnership for Human Rights, Ana Arganashvili, said the State has yet to develop effective mechanisms to protect the victims of femicide and domestic violence. “When there is risk of violence and murder, the State and Police have an obligation to interfere and protect life. Often, domestic violence is hidden from society; sometimes the victims are afraid of the aggressor and do not report to the police or cancel their statements once given. For that reason, the police need to be particularly cautious and take all measures to combat such tragedies as Gunay’s. The MIA should have a well-established mechanism to evaluate and identify risks. Unfortunately, we have not yet achieved that and hope the MIA will create a special unit to work on gender-based violence.”

According to the MIA, in 2015 the police issued 2,726 restrictive orders in the cases of domestic violence. The majority of aggressors (2,283) were men and 185 aggressors were women. In the same period, 2,301 victims were women and 337 were men.

According to the MIA, most facts of domestic violence happen because of jealousy, alcohol influence and property dispute. In 2015, because of domestic violence, criminal prosecution was begun against 949 persons.

Law enforcement officers arrested Novraz A soon after the murder of 19-year-old Gunay. The investigation was launched under Article 108 of the Criminal Code of Georgia for premeditated murder.

Gulnur Kazimova

04 August 2016 21:31