Armenia: Ministry of Justice Submits New Domestic Violence Law to Parliament

The Armenian National Assembly will soon debate new legislation criminalizing domestic violence. The Ministry of Justice drafted the law with the support of Armenia’s President and with input and advice from domestic and international women’s human rights organizations. Armenia currently has no law outlawing domestic violence and, prior to the well-publicized murder of a woman by her husband in 2010, “domestic violence was not discussed publicly, nor even acknowledged as a matter of social concern.”

In addition to imposing criminal penalties for acts of domestic violence, the proposed legislation would mandate that the state help victims by providing shelters and protective orders. The law would also direct the police to “launch a criminal investigation into suspected domestic violence cases, even if the complaint is withdrawn by the victim."  

As with previous attempts to promote gender equity or outlaw domestic violence in Armenia, the current draft bill is generating intense debate across the country. Armenia is one of only two Council of Europe (COE) member states that have not signed or ratified the COE Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which would require the country to enact laws and policies that protect women from all forms of violence. According to a report by Radio Free Europe, women’s rights group have long argued that the absence of legal protections in Armenia "means that victims are often turned away by police or encouraged to withdraw their claims, simply because the law is ill-equipped to prosecute offenders."  

The Ministry of Justice has posted the draft domestic violence law on its website, allowing commentary from the public. Women’s rights groups have already identified several gaps or issues of concern in the proposed law and have urged Armenian policymakers to make necessary changes. 

Compiled from: Armenia to Finally Pass a Law against Domestic Violence, The Armenian Weekly (October 13, 2017); Matosian, Mary, Finally a Domestic Violence Law Will Be Introduced in Armenia’s Parliament, Asbaraz (October 23, 2017); Wesolowsky, Tony, Bill Outlawing Domestic Abuse Stirs Debate In Armenia, Radio Free Europe (October 22, 2017); Mensoian, Michael, Zaruhi and Domestic Violence in Armenia Revisited, The Armenian Weekly (October 31, 2017).