Armenia: Parliament Approves Historic Domestic Violence Law
Friday, December 8, 2017 9:25 PM

The Armenian National Assembly has passed historic legislation that will criminalize domestic violence for the first time in Armenia. The new law also contains measures intended to protect victims and prevent violence, including emergency protective orders. Despite last minute changes made to the bill to “appease opponents,” including the addition of a clause that would prioritize reconciliation of victims and perpetrators, most women’s advocates in Armenia say the new legislation is a positive step forward. They point to several provisions that previously did not exist in Armenian law, including “the training of service providers; confidentiality of the victims; protect[ive] orders; removing the abuser from the homes for a certain period; [and] police accompanying victims to the home to retrieve belongings.” The law also expands the definition of domestic violence to include physical, sexual, economic and psychological violence.

Women’s rights organizations in Armenia say they will now focus on implementation and working to ensure the law is properly enforced by police, policy makers, and others. Previously, Armenia had no law outlawing domestic violence. 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."  

Compiled from: Janbazian, Rupen, Armenia Adopts Law against Domestic Violence at Last, The Armenian Weekly (December 8, 2017); Armenia to Finally Pass a Law against Domestic Violence, The Armenian Weekly (October 13, 2017); Wesolowsky, Tony, Bill Outlawing Domestic Abuse Stirs Debate In Armenia, Radio Free Europe (October 22, 2017).