Ukrainian Parliament Amends Legislation on Domestic Violence
Friday, July 10, 2009 1:40 PM

On 25 September 2008, the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) adopted a series of amendments to the law “On the Prevention of Violence in the Family.”  Activists in Ukraine have been advocating for revisions to the domestic violence law since it was passed in 2001, and the current revisions have been under debate in the Ukrainian Parliament since 2007.  The new amendments address many, though not all, of the concerns human rights activists had with the earlier domestic violence legislation.

The amendments include the following changes to the previous law:

  • Removal of “provocative behavior provision,” which allowed for police to issue warnings to victims of violence who had supposedly provoked the violence against them;
  • Expansion of definition of “family,” allowing for “family” to include persons living together but not married;
  • Extension of the time period allowed for detention of those arrested for domestic violence from 3 hours to a maximum of 5 days pending trial;
  • Creation of correctional programs for perpetrators of domestic violence to receive counseling on non-violent behaviors; and
  • Replacement of references to domestic violence as “petty hooliganism” with the term “violence in the family.”

Changes in Ukrainian legislation and its effect on the Ukrainian populace are currently being monitored by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, an association of 24 Ukrainian NGOs established in 2004.  Their recently released report “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2008” praises the Ukrainian government for passing the amendments to the law on domestic violence and for the current work being done by government agencies and partner NGOs, especially considering the harsh economic recession and political turmoil that Ukraine has faced since 2008. But the report also expresses concerns over Ukraine’s ability to effectively implement the new law: without sufficient funding granted or regulatory mechanisms created, it is unlikely that correctional programs for perpetrators of domestic violence will be able to function effectively.  In addition, public awareness campaigns and trainings should be implemented to increase knowledge of the law and its associated programs. According to the report, the Ukrainian public is largely unaware of their rights under the new law, and even government officials are often unfamiliar with how to implement new procedures. 

Compiled from: “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2008,” Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (2009); “Law of Ukraine: On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Improvement of Legislation Combating Domestic Violence,” The Journal of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, no. 13, p. 153 (2009).