- Hans Weber
- November 29, 2023
Ratification of Istanbul Convention Faces Opposition in Czech Senate Committees
Efforts to ratify the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, are encountering resistance within the Czech Senate. None of the Senate committees tasked with examining the Convention’s ratification have yet voted in favor of it. Today, the Senate foreign committee declined to recommend ratification, deeming it redundant. Similarly, the committee for EU affairs expressed concerns about the lack of clarity in interpreting certain parts of the Convention.
The Istanbul Convention, which aims to combat domestic violence and gender-based violence, has faced opposition primarily from conservative politicians. In July, the upper house’s constitutional and legal committee rejected the Convention, labeling it an ideological document. This committee, along with the EU affairs committee, urged the Ministry of Justice to enhance protections for victims of domestic violence independently.
The Convention’s ratification has generated strong emotions within Czech society. Supporters believe that its implementation would enhance victim assistance programs and symbolize the nation’s commitment to condemning violence. However, opponents, including conservative groups and Christian churches, contend that the Convention favors women over other victim groups and demands societal and relational changes that they view as problematic.
The Czech Republic’s delay in ratifying the Convention contrasts with the majority of EU member states that have adopted it. While member states collectively agreed to join the Convention, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Turkey have exhibited resistance or hesitancy.
Amidst the internal debate, the Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Klara Simackova Laurencikova, positioned the Convention as a crucial tool for implementing prevention and victim support programs. Simackova Laurencikova stressed that the country’s delay in adopting measures against violence is concerning, as negative patterns of behavior can persist across generations.
The Convention’s provisions encompass medical support for victims of sexual violence, legal and psychological aid, shelters, and training for various professionals like health workers, police officers, and judges. It emphasizes engaging men and boys in prevention efforts and working with violent individuals.
As the Czech Senate’s committees continue to deliberate, the nation’s stance on the Istanbul Convention remains uncertain. The ongoing debate underscores the complexities of navigating social, cultural, and political considerations when addressing critical issues like gender-based violence and domestic abuse.
Article by Prague Forum