Adopting domestic violence laws isn’t enough

16 Days
At the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council, held October 1, 2015, The Advocates for Human Rights delivered the following statement on its model for using legal reform to protect women from domestic violence. Below is video of The Advocates’ volunteer Dr. William Lohman delivering the statement at the United Nations in Geneva.
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“The Advocates for Human Rights welcomes the High Commissioner’s summary report under item 2 and supports a focus on technical assistance and capacity-building options for integrating human rights into national policies.

“As discussed at the panel during the 28th session pursuant to resolution 27/26, successful mainstreaming of human rights depends on, among other things, good laws and the enforcement of those laws. To create a good law, states must understand the best practices that need to be included. At The Advocates for Human Rights, we see this daily in our work with global partners to monitor laws on violence against women and drive change.

“Laws set the foundation for victim safety and offender accountability, and evaluation and monitoring are critical to ensuring that the laws as written incorporate best practices, that they are properly implemented, and that the laws do not result in unintended harms.

“In our evaluations, we check whether a law contains important elements that focus on victim safety and offender accountability, including good remedies, such as issuing and enforcing restraining orders, and a recognition that domestic violence is a crime against the state, not just against the individual, and that these crimes must be publicly prosecuted.

“From our work on domestic violence, we see firsthand that adopting a law is not enough – laws cannot protect victims or hold offenders accountable if they are not implemented or monitored to determine whether there are unanticipated harmful results. In Nepal, for example, the Domestic Violence Act emphasizes reconciliation of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.  Focusing on reconciliation, however, is a practice that actually is harmful to victims and allows perpetrators to act with impunity.

“The Advocates for Human Rights encourages members of the Human Rights Council to urge member states to work with civil society and incorporate best practices into their laws. We urge member states to regularly monitor the implementation of their own laws to successfully mainstream human rights, in particular a woman’s right to be free from violence.

“Thank you.”


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