Final Reports on National Campaign action carried out within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence
Thematic areas of the Blueprint
1. Legal and policy measures
- You are expected to provide information on revised and/or new legislation adopted to prevent violence against women, protect the victim and punish the perpetrator or any initiatives taken to this extent.
- The government has introduced separate legislation to allow temporary restraining orders to be imposed on perpetrators of domestic violence where there is an acute danger to the victim and any children involved. The restraining order, which would apply for ten days, could be issued by the police by order of the mayor. It could be reviewed by a court within three days. The court would have the option of withdrawing or upholding the restraining order or extending it to a maximum of four weeks. It should also be possible to issue restraining orders in cases of child abuse. Immediately after issueing a restraining order a counselling process will be instituted for those involved. A bill to this effect will come into force in 2008. Training and the necessary tools for all professionals concerned have already been developed.
- In January 2007 the Social Support Act came into force in all municipalities in the Netherlands. Under the Act the municipalities are now responsible for setting up social support. Aim of this act is participation of all citizens to all facets of the society. The perspective is a coherent policy in the field of the social support and related areas. Social support includes alsof the pursuit of policies to combat domestic violence.This means that municipalities are legally responsible for this policy area. Within this legal framework each municipality can make its own policy, based on the composition and demands of the inhabitants. Women’s refuge-centres are provided for in the Social Support Act.
2. Support and protection for victims
- You are expected to provide information on the adoption of new measures and revised measures to protect and support the victim (services offered for victims) or any initiatives taken to this extent.
- A new law for victims is pending in the Dutch Parliament. It contains rights for victims of crime in the process of penal law such as the right to get information and the right to deliver information, the right to a lawyer or an interpreter and the right to an advance when the suspect is sentenced to pay damages. The new law also widens the possibility for a civil claim in the penal procedure.
Beside the regular opportunities which the Dutch system of legal aid offers to people with a low-income, there is a special provision of legal aid for victims of severe crimes of serious (sexual) violence. Since 1 April 2006, victims of severe (sexual) violence can apply for free legal aid by a specialised lawyer, regardless their financial means (income or assets). The only condition is that the (sexual) violence resulted in severe physical and / or mental injuries.
The criteria to determine whether this condition is met are corresponding with the criteria that apply under the ‘Wet schadefonds geweldsmisdrijven’ (the law on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund). The free legal assistance applies to criminal and the civil proceedings to obtain compensation.
For victims of domestic violence the above implies that, if the (sexual) violence they endured has resulted in severe physical and / or psychological injuries, they can appeal to free legal assistance, regardless of their financial capacity. On condition that the offender is brought before a criminal Court.
3. Data collection
- You are expected to provide information on the improvements concerning the collection of statistical data, both on conducting population-based surveys as well as collecting administrative data or any initiatives taken to this extent.
A. Nationwide research
At this moment the Research- and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Justice, is carrying out a large-scale research project on domestic violence, i.e. violence by or against women as well as men. The aim is to acquire more insight into the nature and amount of domestic violence, the characteristics of victims and perpetrators, the manner in which victims and perpatrators when asking (or not asking) for help, and into recidivism of perpetrators. This research project will use the IVAWS questionnaire wherever possible in order to be able to compare research findings with results from other countries. As men form part of respondents, the questionnaire was adapted to this targetgroup. The project consists of several parts.
- domestic violence data are collected by means of the capture-recapture data method; data will be distilled from police records and (probably) records of hospital first-aid offices.
- a survey into victimisation and perpetration of domestic violence, by means of an online-accesspanel. The respondent group (N = 6000) comprises women and men aged 18 year and over. Subsequenstly face to face interviews will be conducted with 1000 victims.
- an analysis of a database of perpetrators of domestic violence; this database contains information on perpetrators who have been in contact with the police and justice as a result of (a) domestic violence offense(s). Face to face interviews will be conducted with 100 of this group.
The results of this nationwide research are expected to be available in the course of the year 2009.
B. Police registration
The police have developed a registration system to register domestic violence. All police regions are now using a special code to record incidents and victims of domestic violence.
This registration was the data source for a study conducted in 2006. This study showed that in 2006, the police recorded 63,131 incidents of domestic violence. This is a increase of 10% compared to the number recorded in 2005. The vast majority of victims of domestic violence are women (83.8%).
4. Awareness Raising
- If you have run or are planning on running a national Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence, developed within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign and its aims and objectives, you are invited to include information on its main focus, slogan as well as main activities and Campaign website if possible. In addition, you are also expected to provide information on other awareness raising activities.
A national public education campaign against domestic violence, introducing a national hotline and a special website, has been launched in April 2007. The national hotline and the special website will remain in force for 5 years. The national public education campaign will be repeated in 2008.
Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
Physical and sexual violence and stalking, threatening behaviour and destroying another persons home or possessions, whether committed in the public or the private sphere and whether committed against women or men, are criminal acts under the Dutch criminal code.
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?
When acts of abuse are committed against an intimate partner, male or female, or against ones child the intimate relationship forms a punishment increasing factor according to the Dutch criminal code. So it is possible to give more severe punishment to perpetrators of intimate partner violence and child abuse.
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
A new law for victims is pending in the Dutch Parliament. It contains rights for victims of crime in the process of penal law such as the right to get information and the right to deliver information, the right to a lawyer or an interpreter and the right to an advance when the suspect is sentenced to pay damages. The new law also widens the possibility for a civil claim in the penal procedure.
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 1
35 municipalities receive specific grants for women's refuge-centres (financial volume of these structural resources € 52 million). These centres offer temporary refuge and advice for women (with or without children) who have fled their homes because of violence, abuse or serious problems in their relationships. There is a guaranteed nationwide admission to any women's refuge-centre. Women's refuge offer different forms of refuge and assistance. There are crisis centres for the first weeks, shelters for the period following and ambulatory guidance. Different levels of safety are available.
In 2005 there were 2902 places (in 2000 2462).
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
At this moment the Research- and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Justice, is carrying out a large-scale research project on domestic violence, i.e. violence by or against women as well as men. The results of this nationwide research are expected to be available in the course of the year 2009.
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?