Officials Reject Proposed Bill on Domestic Violence

The Armenian government surprised numerous activists and civil society groups when it dismissed a proposed bill that defined and established legal repercussions for domestic violence. Laws concerning domestic violence are greatly needed in the Armenian legal system. Last year there were 760 reported incidents of domestic violence in Armenia, including five domestic homicides. Although Armenia's deputy labor minister stated that revisions to current legislation would protect women from domestic violence, advocates of the bill stated that there is currently no law that gives police the authority to identify domestic violence victims.

Work on the recently rejected bill began in 2007 when the Women’s Rights Center in Armenia began drafting initial versions of the bill. By the end of 2009, its authors presented the draft bill to Armenia's labor and social affairs ministry. From there, it gained the attention of the Armenian government, resulting in the creation of an official drafting committee in 2011. The committee’s final bill was recently denied enactment. Opponents cite current legislation that prevents police officers from denying entry of a citizen to his or her own property.
 
Activists' surprise and frustration stem from the fact that officials waited to address this issue until years of drafting and cooperation had taken place. Many question why some Armenian officials who worked side by side with activists in drafting the bill only now raise this legal concern. In response to the recent development, a group of civil society organizations sent the president of Armenia a letter stating that the signers believe the government is sending a message that "preventing domestic violence is not seen as an important problem," and that it "lacks the political will to pass the law."
 
Compiled from: Aleksanyan-Caucasus, Mary, “Domestic Abuse Law Dumped in Armenia,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting (May 23, 2013).