Parliament of Georgia supports ratification of the Istanbul Convention

Date: Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In an 85-to-0 vote, the Parliament of Georgia endorsed the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (also known as the Istanbul Convention) at its first reading.

The building of Parliament of Georgia in Kutaisi; Photo: The Parliament of Georgia
Mr. Dimitri Tskitishvili, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and member of the Gender Equality Council, dedicated his speech at the plenary session to gender equality issues and pointed out that Georgia will be the first country in the region to not only ratify but also implement this document.

Georgia signed the Istanbul Convention on 19 June 2014. The Convention requires states parties to promote and effectively implement policies of equality between women and men and the empowerment of women; to protect women against all forms of violence; and to prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. To offer a holistic response to violence against women and domestic violence, it calls for the involvement of all relevant actors, such as government agencies; the national, regional and local parliaments and authorities; national human rights institutions; and civil society organizations.

Mr. Alexander Baramidze, Acting Minister of Justice and spokesperson on this issue, emphasized the importance of the treaty for Georgia: “It is essential for us to ratify this Convention and adopt the draft laws that come along with it, not only to ensure harmonization with the international law but also to comply with the domestic legislation.”

Mr. Baramidze informed the Members of Parliament about the most significant issues of principle that are to be introduced in 24 draft laws that accompany the Convention. In accordance with the package of legislative amendments, the scope of the legislative framework on domestic violence will be expanded to also cover violence against women in general, taking into consideration the gendered nature of domestic violence and addressing the phenomenon of violence against women in a holistic manner. One of the important amendments concerns simplification of the issuance procedures for restraining orders. “This way we will be able to protect survivors more effectively,” Mr. Baramidze noted. Furthermore, forced sterilization, female genital mutilation and stalking are criminalized.

The Istanbul Convention ratification package was drafted by the Ministry of Justice with UN Women facilitating a broad consultation process with NGOs and academia within the framework of the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality, generously funded by the Government of Sweden.

Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, in her Georgia-specific report released earlier this year (June 2016), recommended the speedy adoption of the amendments in order to bring national legislation on violence against women and gender equality in line with the Istanbul Convention. The process is also instrumental to achieving targets under Georgia’s nationalized Sustainable Development Goal 5.

Currently, a working group led by UN Women is preparing the subsequent package of legislative amendments aimed at eliminating shortfalls in the acting legislation identified by practitioners and ensuring its full harmonization with the Istanbul Convention.