On November 13 the RA Ministry on Labour and Social Affairs organized the public discussion to present the draft law “On Domestic Violence”. It will be edited after the discussion and submitted to the Government.
The draft law has been elaborated back in 2007 by the initiative of the NGO “Women’s Rights Center” based on the experience of the European countries. In 2009 the draft was presented to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
In June 2011 it was created the Interagency working group which developed the final version of the draft law. “The document is very laborious; it could be revised as much as the work continues. It relates the functions of different agencies: court, Prosecutor’s Office, Police, community etc. The powers of all these agencies should be clearly defined and the adjacent laws should be amended to avoid contradictions”, says the Head of the Interagency working group Lala Ghazaryan.
The Deputy Minister on Labour and Social Affairs Filaret Berikyan said that the reason for delay of the adoption of the law was recently ratified Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
“After the submission of the law to different ministries to obtain the opinions, the Police, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested to revise the draft and bring it into compliance with the provisions of the Convention. Our country seems to get prepared to join the Convention and it would be fair that we revise the law at this stage. Otherwise we will need to make changes in the law after the ratification of the Convention”, says the Deputy Minister.
Adoption of the law “On Domestic violence” includes amendments in the 5 adjacent laws: Law on Police, Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Administrative Procedure Code, Law on Administrative offences.
The RA legislation does not define the notion “domestic violence” and there is no official statistics on how many people are subjected to domestic violence every year in Armenia. We know about the cases trough the social surveys and information published by the NGOs.
“If the law were adopted, there would be statistics as well. We should do our best not only for adoption of the law but also for its implementation. It will give a possibility for more efficient protection of the victims of violence. The NGOs should work to increase the awareness, including trainings for police, prosecutors, judges, lawyers because we do not have specialized experts in the field”, stresses out Chairwoman of the “Women’s Resource Center” Larisa Aharonyan.
In recent years the State has adopted number of strategic documents in the field of gender equality and combat with the violence against women. In 2010 it was adopted the Gender Policy Concept Paper, in 2011 the Government approved the National program «Against gender violence», the Strategic program for 2011-2015 and 2012 Event program which includes the adoption of the law «On Domestic violence».
The National Assembly has adopted the draft law on “Ensuring equal rights and possibilities for women and men” at first reading.
The Head of the Department of Family, Women and Children issues of the RA Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Lala Ghazaryan says that all these documents prepared a ground for adoption of the law.
“I think that our Government took serious steps to regulate the issue of the domestic violence in our country”, says Lala Ghazaryan and adds that the state policy aimed firstly at the prevention of the domestic violence.
What the law stipulates?
The law “On Domestic Violence” regulates the legal relations concerning the domestic violence, defines the notion “domestic violence”, bodies having powers in the field of prevention of the domestic violence, financial sources of these bodies, specific measures and types for prevention of the domestic violence, grounds for their application and protection of the family members while their application, accountability for commitment of the domestic violence.
The law provides the following special preventive mechanisms: official notification, emergency intervention and official decision.
In the case of first record of the violence the police officer should officially notify the perpetrator on inadmissibility of the application of violence and that in case of reoccurrence the police will apply the emergency intervention.
Decision on emergency intervention is made by the police when there is a need of immediate protection of the violence victim, if there is a suspicion that the behavior of the perpetrator threatens the life, freedom or personal immunity of the victim or other family members.
By the decision on emergency intervention it may be forbidden the perpetrator to approach the victim closer than 100 meters, in case of necessity his/her children or other persons under his/her guardianship.
The decision on emergency intervention is in force for 72 hours. If protection of the victim is not possible by the decision on emergency intervention, the police apply to the court with the motion to apply an official decision.
By the official decision the perpetrator may be temporarily removed from the house of the domestic violence victim regardless who is the owner of the apartment.
Head of the Prophylactic Department of the Public Order Maintenance Department of RA Police Aram Smbatyan finds this provision unrealistic.
“We have officially expressed our opinion and suggested amendments to ensure further efficiency of the law based on the respect of the rights of the owner without breaking the law. The law provides that the perpetrator could be temporarily removed from the apartment. In that case the state should provide accommodation but this is not stipulated by the law. It is inadmissible to leave in the street the offender or perpetrator”, says police colonel.
Filaret Berikyan stresses out that this issue will be furthered regulated with by-laws.
Based on the opinions and suggestion voiced during the public discussion the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will revise the draft law “On Domestic violence” and most likely will submit to the Government’s approval in the end of November.