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Opening speech of Justice Minister at public discussion of draft Law on Preventing Domestic Violence

10/10/2017

On 9 October a public discussion on the topic of “Combating domestic violence: work done and steps to be taken” took place in Yerevan. The opening speech of Minister of Justice Davit Harutyunyan is presented in full:

"Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, thank you for responding to the recall of the Ministry and for participating in today's discussion. I am sure that today's discussion will be useful and interesting for all of us.

Before introducing the necessity of the draft law, let me extend my thanks to all the compassionate members of the society, who don't spare efforts and diligence to emphasise the significance of this issue and to offer potential solutions for the problems pending. For years, many of them carried out consistent work for the protection of victims.

First of all, I should emphasise that        the public demand for adopting such a law has been a long standing issue. Officially, in 2012-2016, 3571 cases of domestic violence were recorded by the Police. Moreover, according to the data published by the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia, in the context of domestic violence murders make 17 percent of murders recorded in the Republic.

Besides, 38 criminal cases were initiated in connection with crimes against sexual freedom and sexual integrity of juveniles in the 1st semester of 2015, 47 percent of which — committed by a member of the family.

In the 1st semester of 2017, 215 cases of domestic violence were under consideration in the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia, 5 of which — by corpus delicti of murder.

It should also be noted that high level of latency is usually particular to domestic violence. Most of the victims don't apply to law-enforcement bodies for many social and economic, as well as cultural reasons. When examining each case of murder or causing grave harm to health, which was committed among members of the family, a long story of domestic violence preceding those grave crimes is revealed.

According to the data of non-governmental organisations, the number of victims only among women having applied to those organisations for support in consequence of domestic violence in 2016 was about 5000. However, efficient and sufficient toolkit of equivalent response to domestic violence, protection of victims as well as support and prevention of domestic violence is not provided by the current legislation.

The activity of state bodies performing such functions is not regulated in a system-based manner, no centralised recordkeeping of cases of domestic violence is available, and a number of other gaps also exist in the sector. It would be possible to prevent a number of fatal cases of domestic violence if those protective mechanisms were available.

The adoption of the Law is envisaged by the Action Plan deriving from the National Strategy on Human Rights Protection, as well as by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and by the recommendations of the Committee.

Dear colleagues,

I would like to specifically indicate what issues particularly are not stipulated by the draft Law:

The draft Law doesn't stipulate any new grounds and procedure for depriving of parental rights, restriction of those rights or adopting children. To this part, the regulations enshrined in the Family Code will continue to apply.

We haven’t chosen the path of aggravating the criminal liability and haven't adopted the punitive policy. As it is obvious from the title of the draft Law, its aim is to prevent and protect. Hence, the restrictions envisaged are of preventive nature rather than punitive. An opportunity of conciliation and psychological support for the perpetrator of violence is also envisaged with the view to preserving the family on one hand and preventing new violence — on the other.

The draft Law also stipulates:

-   new protective mechanisms in the form of urgent intervention and protective decisions;

-   founding of centres and shelters of support to the victims by the State, opening of an account for support;

-   centralised recordkeeping of cases of domestic violence, which will result in the reduction of its latency and our gaining of a clearer vision of its extent;

-   forming a Domestic Violence Prevention Council with strong grounds for co-operation with non-governmental organisations;

-   requirement for periodical trainings of relevant specialists of the field.

Dear attendees,

The Draft Law has been posted on “е-draft” website for public discussion since 19 September, and we plan to sum up the opinions based on the results of today's discussion and submit the draft to the Government of the Republic of Armenia for consideration. I am sure that submission of the draft Law to the National Assembly will be in time.

Thank you".

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