President Pavel Calls For Czech Ratification of Istanbul Convention

Although the Czech Republic signed the Convention in 2016, it still needs to be ratified and signed by the president to come into force. Photo credit: Petr Pavel, via Facebook.

Reykjavik, May 17 (CTK special correspondent) – Czech President Petr Pavel said that he sees no reason why the Czech Republic should not ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. He was speaking at the close of the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavik yesterday.

“We are one of the last European states not to have ratified the Istanbul Convention. I don’t see a single real reason why we shouldn’t do it,” Pavel said.

Although the Czech Republic signed the Convention in 2016, it still needs to be ratified by both chambers of parliament and then signed by the president to come into force.

The document has stirred strong emotions in the Czech Republic in recent years. It has been strongly opposed by conservatives and seven Christian churches. Opponents of the convention claim that it is unnecessary and that it would pit men and women against each other.

On the contrary, supporters see it as a tool to improve the safety net for victims of violence by enacting solutions to eradicate violence, and strengthening prevention and law enforcement. However, according to women’s organisations, the Convention has become the target of a disinformation campaign by some associations and individuals.

The fact that Prague has not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention casts the Czech Republic in a bad light with its partners in Western Europe, who view the document as a certain sign of “advanced civilization”, according to diplomatic sources.

In addition to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are also among the countries that have not yet ratified the Convention. In 2021, Turkey withdrew from the Convention, named after the Turkish city where it was first opened for signature in 2011, despite having become one of the first signatories to ratify it in 2012.

The text of the convention condemns domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, forced marriage, so-called honour crimes and genital mutilation. It points out that women are much more likely to be victims of domestic and sexual violence than men, as well as victims of mass rape in armed conflicts.

The document categorises violence against women as discrimination and a violation of human rights. In the convention, states commit themselves to enacting measures against violence, to prevention, and to allocating money for services, among other things. Training for health workers, police officers and judges is also included.

Based on the Convention, there should be medical assistance centers for victims of sexual violence, legal and psychological support, and shelters. The text mentions that men and boys should also be involved in prevention and that violent offenders should be worked with.

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