Armenia—Domestic Violence—Universal Periodic Review—July 2019
The Advocates for Human Rights, together with Human Rights Research Center and The Women’s Resource Center Armenia submitted a stakeholder report on domestic violence in Armenia to the U.N. Human Rights Council for Armenia’s 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review.
Domestic violence remains a widespread problem in Armenia. Over 700 cases of abuse were reported in 2018, and 62 women died between 2010 and 2017. Victims of domestic violence receive little support; there are no state-run shelters, and a shortage of NGO-run shelters. Law enforcement and judges are not properly trained to process domestic violence cases, and often engage in victim-blaming behavior, rendering victims unprotected from further instances of abuse. Often abusers are not held accountable under the law until one or several victims have been killed. Many NGO’s and human rights defenders who support victims of domestic violence are often targeted by extremist groups as “Destroyers of families”.
During its 2nd Cycle UPR, Armenia accepted many recommendations related to gender equality and domestic violence, but noted recommendations relating to gender discrimination. The government also passed the Prevention of Violence within the Family, Protection of Victims of Violence within the Family and Restoration of Peace in the Family law in 2017. The law is beneficial in that it defines domestic violence and obliges regions to establish support centers; however, it fails to criminalize domestic violence, and over emphasizes keeping families together, which hinders a woman's capacity to divorce their abuser. As such, the law fails to meet international standards.
This stakeholder submission suggests several recommendations for Armenia, including:
● Increase awareness of domestic violence through national campaigns
● Amend the Armenian Criminal Code to ensure that domestic violence is classified as an aggravated crime. Establish procedures that are specific to criminal proceedings
● Under a separate chapter of the Criminal Code, define forms of domestic violence including marital rape, sexual harassment, psychological violence, coercive control, and economic violence as criminal offenses
● Adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, recognizing gender-based violence as a form of discrimination, and prohibit discrimination against women, including through the use of sanctions as required under the Istanbul convention
● Amend the 2017 Prevention of violence within the Family, protection of Victims of Violence within the Family and restoration of Peace in the Family to remove references to traditional values and emphasis on reconciliation to bring the laws in line with all of the requirements of the Istanbul convention