Friday, 1 November 2013

Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence

The National Assembly of Serbia ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, on 31 October 2013.

The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) is the most comprehensive international agreement in this area.

The Istanbul Convention recognises violence against women as one of the most serious forms of human rights violation. It is a form of discrimination against women, which is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination of men over women.

Because of this, the Istanbul Convention directly addresses the need of removing harmful gender stereotypes and prejudices, customs and traditions, which are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or the application of stereotypical gender roles.

According to the Istanbul Convention, the State shall take the necessary measures to promote changes in the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women in order to eradicate prejudices, customs, traditions and other practices which are based on the inferiority of women and stereotyped gender roles.

The obligation of the state is to provide training of experts that provide services to victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence. Raising public awareness about the various forms of violence against women and its consequences is also the obligation of the state.

The Istanbul Convention envisages cooperation between the state and NGOs, the media and the private sector to ensure that the problem of violence against women is presented to the public.

In the area of the protection of victims of violence, the state should ensure that the needs and safety of victims are of primary concern and that perpetrators of violence against women are criminally prosecuted and adequately punished. This means that states are obliged to take the necessary legislative or other measures to provide victims with adequate civil remedies against the perpetrator, but also against the state authorities that have failed in their duty to respond to violence within the scope of their powers.

In a nutshell, the Istanbul Convention requires the signatory states to exercise due diligence in the prevention, protection, prosecution and punishment for acts of violence.  

Unfortunately, the Republic of Serbia has reserved on two articles of the Istanbul Convention - Article 3 of the Law on Ratification of the Convention states: "The Republic of Serbia shall have the right not to apply the provisions of Article 30 paragraph 2 and Article 44 paragraph 1 point e), paragraph 3 and paragraph 4 of the Convention until it has harmonised its criminal legislation with the aforementioned provisions of the Convention.”

Article 30 paragraph 2 of the Convention is related to the appropriate state compensation for persons who have suffered serious bodily injury or serious health damage caused by suffered violence.

Article 44 has the same content as Article 25 of the Convention for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which was adopted in 2010, and refers to jurisdiction. Neither then nor now criminal legislation was in compliance with the provisions of that Convention, but the state has not made any reservation.

For the Istanbul Convention to come into force, ten states need to deposit the ratification instruments for accepting the Convention, and at least eight of ten initial states need to be members of the Council of Europe. The Istanbul Convention comes into force on the first day in a month upon the expiry of three months after depositing ratification instruments by ten signatory states, by which the Convention is ratified, accepted or approved.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action