The European Union must ratify the Convention on preventing and combating gender-based violence from 2021, according to a European Court of Justice ruling, Parliament insists.
In a resolution adopted by 469 votes in favour, 104 against and 55 abstentions, the plenary stressed that the Istanbul Convention remains the international standard and the key instrument for eradicating gender-based violence, including domestic violence. Parliamentarians condemned attempts by some Member States to withdraw ratified measures to implement the Istanbul Convention and called for its full implementation.
They also criticised failures in gender equality, women’s rights and the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. They cited the specific case of Poland, where the government is actively seeking to withdraw from the Convention and has implemented a de facto ban on abortion. They called on national authorities to combat misinformation about the Convention.
Six years after the EU signed the treaty, the EU has still not ratified it due to the refusal of some member states. However, the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 6 October 2021 clearly indicated that the EU can ratify the Istanbul Convention without the consent of all member states. According to the members, the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention does not absolve member states from the responsibility to ratify the pact themselves. The resolution urges the six countries that have not yet done so (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia) to ratify the convention immediately.
Concrete proposals for implementation
Criminal justice should only be one part of a comprehensive response to gender-based violence, MEPs say. The EU’s response should also encompass prevention, protection, and prosecution. Member states should ensure gender-sensitive training, procedures and guidelines, as well as specialist support and protection measures with a victim-centred approach for all professionals involved, including law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and public prosecutors.
Arba Kokalari (EPP, Sweden), rapporteur for the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, said: “We as Europeans now have a window of opportunity to take the necessary measures to combat violence against women, which affects as many as one third of all women in Europe. It is time for the EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention. The EU must step up and go from words to action to stop gender-based violence, protect victims and punish perpetrators.”
Łukasz Kohut (S&D, Poland) rapporteur for the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee said: “Six years ago, the EU signed the Istanbul Convention, which aims to prevent violence, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators. Our report is a strong signal supporting the Swedish Presidency’s efforts for the EU to accede to the Istanbul Convention. The reality – that violence is happening in many homes – must change soon!”
One in three women in the EU, around 62 million women, has experienced physical and/or sexual violence and more than half of women (55%) in the EU have experienced sexual harassment at least once since the age of 15.
Source: European Parliament