State Responsibility for Protection Against Domestic Violence: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Decision in Lenahan (Gonzales) and its Application in Canada
21 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2012
Date Written: April, 18 2012
In August, 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released its decision in Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States, a case concerning states’ obligations to use due diligence in responding to domestic violence. The IACHR found that the United States had breached several articles of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man for failing to protect Lenahan and her children from domestic violence, and made wide-reaching recommendations at both the individual and systemic level. This comment will discuss the IACHR decision in Lenahan and analyze its implications for Canada’s compliance with its international obligations towards domestic violence in the judicial, civil and criminal spheres. Focusing on the concept of access to justice as articulated by the IACHR, the analysis will show that Canada may be in violation of its obligations for failing to provide access to justice in the context of domestic violence, and otherwise in violation of its due diligence obligations under international law.
Keywords: domestic violence, access to justice
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