Czech Government Endorses Ratification of Istanbul Convention

The Czech Republic is one of the last EU states not to have ratified the treaty. Photo credit: Zenon Moreau.

Prague, June 22 (CTK) – The Czech cabinet yesterday agreed to continue with the process of ratification of the Istanbul Convention, and sent the treaty to the Chamber of Deputies to decide on it, according to the junior coalition Mayors and Independents (STAN), writing on Twitter.

“Our government recommended ratifying the Istanbul Convention on the prevention and combating of violence against women and domestic violence,” STAN wrote.

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) told reporters that the ratification of the treaty would not harm anyone, but would help some people.

Lipavsky said there was a political agreement on sending the Convention to parliament. He did not reveal how individual ministers had voted.

Government human rights commissioner Klara Simackova Laurencikova welcomed the government’s approval of the treaty.

The Czech Republic is one of the last EU states not to have ratified the treaty. To take effect, it must be ratified by both houses of parliament and the president must sign it.

EU countries voted earlier this month that the EU would adopt the treaty. The Czech cabinet announced in advance that the Czech representative would abstain from the vote.

The Istanbul Convention was adopted in 2011 and signed in 2016 under the previous Czech government of Andrej Babis (ANO). It provoked strong emotions in the Czech Republic, rejected by conservatives and seven Christian churches. Its proponents say it will help improve aid to victims and send a message that violence is unacceptable. Previous governments postponed its ratification due to controversy over the wording of the document. Some current ministers have called for the ratification to be postponed again.

In its policy statement, the present coalition government declared that the convention will secure better protection of victims of sexual and domestic violence.

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

According to data from the national domestic violence prevention plan, the Czech Republic loses at least 14.5 billion crowns each year due to attacks in households, as a result of absence from work and healthcare treatment. About 600 cases of rape are reported to the police per year, and surveys indicate that this is about 5% of all cases.

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