Saltanat Tursynbekova. Why do you need a new Law “On Countering Domestic Violence”?

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On August 19, 2020, the seventh online seminar was held within the framework of the project “Involvement of civil society institutions in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Kazakhstan,” implemented with the grant support of the Civil Initiatives Support Center of the Ministry of Information and Public Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

This was the second workshop on the thematic cluster “Kazakhstan towards the implementation of SDG 16.1 Significantly reduce the prevalence of all forms of violence and reduce the mortality rates from this phenomenon worldwide.”

The main speaker with an expert opinion on this issue was Saltanat Parkhatovna Tursynbekova, a lawyer with extensive experience in this area, a member of the National Commission on Women’s Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan. Currently, a public activist, a human rights activist, is one of the active developers of the new Law “On Combating Domestic Violence.”

We present to you her presentation at the seminar.

Kazakhstan is a supporter of Sustainable Development Goals

What are the Sustainable Development Goals and how they can affect our future.

As you know, in September 2015, the countries that are members of the United Nations adopted a new sustainable development agenda until 2030. It was called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a document consisting of 17 global goals and 169 goals aimed at:

– the eradication of poverty and hunger,

– Providing quality education,

– Healthy lifestyles and gender equality,

– Management of water resources;

– Providing access to modern energy sources for all.

They also imply the following states:

– sustained economic growth,

– Full and productive employment, industrialization and innovation.

– they also affect the security and openness of human settlements,

– Measures to combat climate change,

– Protection and restoration of ecosystems,

– Revitalization of global partnerships,

– as well as reducing any form of inequality, both nationally and globally.

Kazakhstan supported the Sustainable Development Goals, as they are fully consistent with the goals and objectives facing it as a State open to the world and actively involved in global cooperation.

Kazakhstan has developed its national action plan, mechanisms for achieving the SDGs, and has integrated these goals into its development plans.

I will not list all 17 goals and tasks. I will stop in relation to the theme of our conference – for 16 goals, namely 16.1.

Goal 16. Promoting a peaceful and inclusive society for sustainable development, ensuring access to justice for all and establishing effective, accountable and participatory institutions at all levels

SDG 16.1. A significant reduction in the prevalence of all forms of violence and a decrease in the mortality rate from this phenomenon worldwide.

Violence against women and children is a global problem with a centuries-old negative history.

Any violence, I think, can be safely included among the most common human rights violations, which, moreover, often pose an immediate threat to the lives, physical and psychological health of millions of women and children in the world.

The relevance of this issue is emphasized by the international community at the highest level.

In 1993, the UN General Assembly adopted the “Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.”

In 1999, the UN General Assembly proclaimed November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

This date was chosen in memory of the three sisters of Mirabal, political activists of the Dominican Republic, who, by order of dictator Rafael Trujillo, were brutally killed in 1960.

The Istanbul Convention was adopted on 1 August 2014 on preventing and combating violence against women and girls.

Unfortunately, despite the measures taken, violence against women and children still remained widespread throughout the world.

We are all united in the opinion that the main task in eliminating violence is not to combat the consequences, but to prevent.

And for this, of course, it is necessary to determine the causes and solve problems at the root, without waiting for serious consequences.

Social and labor insecurity, loss of life guidelines and family values, drug addiction and alcoholism, low educational and cultural level, communication problems, social isolation and closeness of the family, low level of awareness, poor prevention are far from a complete list of the causes of increased domestic violence.

Since the introduction of quarantine measures in many States in response to the coronovirus pandemic, the world has faced an outbreak of domestic violence.

And our quarantine period has become a serious test for society. Self-isolation has negatively affected the psychoemotional state of individual citizens, not to mention families, where violence has occurred before.

During this period, women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities were in greater danger, left in a confined space alone with a person prone to abuse.

Unfortunately, this is evidenced by the sad facts of domestic violence during the quarantine period.

Underage children in isolation often witnessed violence against their mother or were themselves bullied.

But the problem arose not suddenly and nowhere.

This is evidenced by statistics. Over the past five years, there has been a steady increase in violent crimes in the field of family and household relations.

If in 2015 the registered cases of intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm amounted to 8.6 percent, then already in 2019 their number amounted to 18.7%.

Cases of intentional infliction of moderate bodily harm in the family and household sphere: in 2015 – 2%, in 2019 – already 11%.

In just 5 months of this year, the number of offenses in the family and household sphere increased by 25%.

We often see egregious facts of domestic violence in social networks and from the data of our social activists.

In order not to exchange emotions and negative reactions, which entail only discord and despair, and endlessly discuss them, it is necessary, in my opinion, to answer simple questions:

Do we understand that there are problems and they need to be solved? How? Let’s puzzle.

Does the current legislation meet the real needs of citizens, does it provide effective protection for you and me?
Are there specific legislative and practical institutional and institutional mechanisms in place to address these problems?
If, yes, then why do they not work, and what are these weak links?

Which state body or which officials are authorized and responsible for solving these problems?
Is there control over the timeliness and quality of their competencies?
Are there criteria for assessing their performance?
What are the concerns of our NGOs today and how effective are the mechanisms to address them?
What is the role of the family, civil society in the formation of social responsibility, law-abiding behavior and spiritual and moral education of the younger generation.
And here the question “and who are the participants” of this whole process arises. Who should do what.

When we talk about problems in the family and household sphere, we understand that there are three stakeholders in this matter:

on the one hand it is a State with its legislative and administrative resources,

– on the other hand, society with all social institutions,

– on the third – this is a specific family and, directly, the person himself.

Each party has legal, social and civil responsibility.

Fulfilling each side of their duties, feeling responsible for the results of work, effective interaction and mutual assistance, in my opinion, will give their positive results.

Let us discuss what measures are being taken by the state.

I think that for all countries in the fight against any manifestation of violence, the main thing is verified politics or political will.

In his annual message to the people of Kazakhstan dated September 2, 2019, President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev identified one of the key areas – solving social problems and protecting the rights of children and women.

The President instructed to create a holistic program to protect children affected by violence, as well as their families, to increase punishment for sexual violence, paedophilia, crimes against children and women, and domestic violence.

The concept of family and gender policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030 (hereinafter referred to as the Concept) provides for a 20 per cent reduction in domestic offences against women and children by 2020.

HOW IS THIS POLICY BEING IMPLEMENTED TODAY?

The National Commission for Women’s Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan, together with authorized State bodies and the non-governmental sector, conducted a comprehensive analysis of legislation and practice.

About legislation.

The analysis showed that existing legal instruments to combat violence are not effective.

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, adopted in 2009, is outdated and its provisions do not have a significant impact on the correction of domestic violence today.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE CURRENT LAW ON THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

WHY DO WE NEED A NEW LAW BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN AMENDED MANY TIMES?

The preventive measures against violence reflected in the Act are not systematic, comprehensive.

The legal competence of prevention actors does not allow the full and effective realization of the real needs of society in ensuring the safety and protection of their rights.

State bodies in the field of justice, culture and sports, religion and civil society, information and communications, youth policy, are not involved in the prevention of domestic violence.

The structure of the Act lacks goals and objectives to combat domestic violence.

The list of basic concepts of the Law should be expanded and clarified.

There is no specific body responsible for coordinating the actors involved in protecting and protecting against family violence.

There is no legislation governing mechanisms for cooperation in the prevention of domestic violence.

Also, the Law does not reflect the norm providing for liability for violation of legislation in the field of prevention of domestic violence.

Standards for systematic analysis, monitoring and integrated research are not established.

There are problematic issues with reconciliation, when the offender goes unpunished and goes on repeated violation.

More than half of the cases are dismissed for reconciliation, that is, every second brawler was left without punishment and every fourth was tried on in a repeat.

Family brawlers are not evicted in practice, since the law provides that for this he must have other housing. This often leads to serious consequences, children suffer.

This is not a complete list of reasons that prove that the current legal framework does not provide full protection for citizens, in particular children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities.

Taking into account all these problems, the deputies of the Parliament initiated and are currently considering 2 bills within the framework of the working group:

– New Law on Combating Domestic Violence

– Draft law amending and supplementing the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Code of Administrative Offenses and a number of other laws.

WHAT NEW RULES ARE PROPOSED IN THE NEW LAW THAT ARE NOT IN THE CURRENT LAW?

Firstly, for the first time, the rights of victims are enshrined.
Secondly, the protection of children’s rights was also introduced for the first time if they were victims or witnesses of domestic violence.
Third innovation. In case of a threat to the life and health of family members, the police are given the right to immediately prohibit the domestic aggressor, to be in the same home as the victim, for up to 10 days.
For the first time, a norm is introduced that obliges a family brawler to undergo a psychocorrection program.
The right of citizens to participate in public control is provided for. And that’s very important.
The deputies proposed the annual submission to the President of the National Report on the situation of domestic violence in the country.
The competence of the central authorities has been expanded and specified.
The competence of local executive bodies includes a number of tasks to implement a strategy aimed at targeted work with families in difficult life situations, and to carry out systematic monitoring of the situation with domestic violence and social disadvantage.
It is proposed to create independent departments for family, children and youth in the regions.
It is proposed to establish family support services in all parts of the country in order to organize crisis beds for women in rural areas.
The norm for the functioning of special mobile groups is being discussed, where citizens themselves will participate. In cases of violence or any difficult situation in which women or children are found or identified, the competent authorities are obliged to take prompt measures to ensure their protection.
A number of new definitions have been introduced into the conceptual apparatus.
There are a number of other effective measures to strengthen prevention.

And now on criminal legal and administrative measures.

The existing criminal and administrative forms of responsibility, unfortunately, do not deter rapists from committing new crimes, do not affect the correction of the behavior of domestic aggressors.

Many repeat offenses, in some cases, criminals evade responsibility or are given punishment that is not adequate for the offense committed.

Therefore, deputies and social activists propose to introduce an additional qualifying feature in the relevant articles of the criminal code for committing intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm, moderate harm, torture and threat in the family.

What exactly will this achieve?

This will directly affect the term and amount of sentences.

That is, if a person has committed a serious crime in the family today he faces from 3 to 7 years in prison.

And with the introduction of a qualifying feature, the sentence will increase from 5 to 10 years.

When committing a crime of moderate gravity, he will already be deprived of his liberty for up to 3 years.

For systematic beatings or torture, today the term of imprisonment is up to 2 years. If a qualifying feature is introduced, then this period will already increase to 7 years.

In addition, deputies are invited to criminalize administrative norms for intentional infliction of light bodily harm and beatings and transfer to the category of criminal offenses of minor severity.
This will involve perpetrators of domestic violence in community service, restriction or actual deprivation of liberty.

A NUMBER OF OTHER MEASURES ARE PROPOSED.

We all have a lot to do to ensure the safety of the family, women and children, in particular, empowerment, strengthening the institution of the family.

There will be large-scale changes that will positively affect the life and well-being of Kazakhstanis.

The main faith and perseverance, unity and support.

I wish health, well-being, good and peace to your families.

 

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