Introduction


The Ministers of Justice of the member states of the Council of Europe will meet in Troms° , Norway, on 17-19 June 2009, to discuss the topic "Breaking the silence - United against domestic violence".

Domestic violence is shrouded in secrecy. Its victims rarely reveal the fear, isolation and trauma in which they live. The perpetrators deny it takes place at all. It is as if it does not exist.

Domestic violence has long been met with public and political silence. It is barely visible in the legal system and seldom recognised as a serious crime and violation of fundamental human rights.

The scene of domestic violence is behind closed doors. It mostly involves intimate partners and former partners, and also takes place within same sex relationships. The victims of domestic violence are usually, but not exclusively, women. Men can be affected as well as children who are often both witnesses of violence between adults and victims of such violence. The increase in inter-generational violence is also becoming a matter of concern in our societies.

The Ministers of Justice will discuss ways to combat domestic violence by identifying the problems and developing and promoting a common approach to breaking the silence, and supporting and empowering the victims.

The 29th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice will open a forum for exchange of views on these issues and identify areas where further efforts are needed to tackle this problem in Europe.