It is expected that the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence will be approved in Latvia with a reservation that Latvia will apply in the implementation the values, principles and norms enshrined in the Constitution, in particular, as regards the protection of human rights, equality between women and men and the protection and support of marriage, family, parents and children.
This was decided by the government on Tuesday, 31 October while examining the draft law produced by the Ministry of Welfare on the ratification of the Convention, and still needs to be considered and voted by the Saeima.
Minister for Welfare Uldis Augulis said, “In particular, I would like to emphasise that when it comes to the ratification of the Convention, it is noted that the term 'social gender’ enshrined in the Convention and used in controversial discussions does not bear any relation to the obligation to introduce any other gender awareness in the legal and educational system of Latvia. It certainly does not impose an obligation to interpret the norms and values set out in our Constitution in a different way. We should make it clear that we are talking only about a woman and a man in the context of social gender.”
The Convention is aimed at protecting women, children and families from all forms of violence and preventing violence against women and domestic violence, punishing for committing violence, as well as promoting the elimination of all forms of violence against women and actual equality between women and men. It establishes a comprehensive legal framework to protect women from all forms of violence and to protect women, men and children from domestic violence.
The Convention requires the Member States to develop a coherent policy on violence against women and domestic violence. Public institutions should carry out inter-institutional cooperation with non-governmental organisations, civil society and the media. The Convention calls for the involvement of all competent national authorities and services in order to be able to address violence against women and domestic violence in a coordinated manner by drawing up rules for cooperation. The Convention also emphasises the need to compile statistics on cases of domestic violence.
The Convention also contains provisions that already arise from other laws and regulations and do not impose additional obligations on Latvia. The Convention contains, for example, a non-discrimination clause, which is a standard article in many national and international legal acts. The Constitution of Latvia also states that all people in Latvia are equal before the law and the court, and human rights are exercised without any discrimination.
In view of the requirements of the Convention, it is also essential to take measures to inform the public about the problem of violence and opportunities to receive assistance, as well as to educate experts.
The Ministry of Welfare organises annually public awareness activities on the prevention of domestic violence, as well as various educational events for the professionals involved, who work with victims of violence and perpetrators of violence on a daily basis.
The Convention aims to reduce the prevalence of domestic violence and violence against women and children. This will, in turn, reduce the negative impact of violence on the victims themselves and society as a whole. There will also be fewer people who, due to the consequences of violence, are no longer able to fully participate in the labour market and contribute to the economy.