"The idea of preventing violence against women and domestic violence is not western imposed nor is it culturally distinct. Violence, be that against women, children or any human being, is legally — and more importantly, morally — reprehensive. Societies and governments cannot have double or multiple standards when it comes to dealing with the rights and protection of their citizens", stressed Natalia Voutova, Head of the Council of Europe office in Armenia, at the kick-off event for a new Council of Europe project on 6 June 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia.
Various national and international stakeholders, including media, attended the kick-off event to launch the new project "Preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia" which builds upon past co-operation activities of the Council of Europe in the country.
The new project aims at strengthening the capacity of legal and law enforcement professionals involved in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia.
The event was opened by the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Armenia, Artak Zeynalyan, who highlighted in his remarks the importance of the new law on domestic violence, adopted in Armenia in December 2017, and its implementation together with civil society and all relevant stakeholders. The Minister made it clear that the national legislation still needs to be further improved which was also concured by Natalia Voutova. Both noted that important steps have now been taken to the right direction to better safeguard the human rights of women.
The project will provide timely support for the implementation of the first Armenian law on domestic violence and will enhance the knowledge of key stakeholders on the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention).
Arman Tatoyan, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, reminded the participants of the event in his opening speech that violence against women is the most common form of discrimination against women boosted by gender stereotypes. He expressed his office's full commitment to implement the new law, continued by Nelly Duryan, Head of Department on protection on juvenile rights and combating domestic violence of the General Department of Criminal Intelligence of the RA Police, mentioning that the new law brings a new phase and everyone has a role to play.
The project promotes co-operation among various stakeholders and partners with the Police and the Academy of Justice as well as with civil society and other relevant national and international institutions and organisations.
"Combating violence against women and domestic violence should be a high priority to any legal system", stated Anahit Manasyan, Vice-Rector of the Academy of Justice. The project continues to raise awareness on European standards, notably on the Istanbul Convention, to pave a way for its ratification and to fully align the Armenian legislation with the standards of the Convention. Armenia signed the Istanbul Convention in January, 2018.
The project objectives and activities were introduced and presented by the project team, Sara Haapalainen and Liana Amirbekyan, following a presentation by a Council of Europe expert Branislava Marvánová Vargová on the importance of multi-agency co-operation on an institutional and individual level when supporting women victims and survivors of violence.
After lively discussions, the event was concluded with celebrating the results of previous activities by handing out course certificates to first participants who completed an online HELP course on violence against women and domestic violence in Armenia. The course, developed by the Council of Europe, aims at improving the quality of the judicial response to cases of violence against women and at supporting access to justice for victims while prosecuting perpetrators.
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