Istanbul Convention to come into force in Latvia on 1st of May 2024

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence or the Istanbul Convention will come into force in Latvia on the 1st of May, as announced in the Latvian Herald.
It is planned for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to record of international agreements in the Information System for Official Publications. The Cabinet of Ministers, on the other hand, governs the information to be included in the Information System of Official Publications and the procedures by which it is submitted to the holder of the information system.

On the 13th of December 2023 President of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs promulgated with law concerning the ratification of the Istanbul Convention passed by the Saeima on the 30th of November.

In accordance with the ruling coalition’s initiative, the Convention was approved with the reservation that in its implementation Latvia will include the values, principles and norms included in the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, in particular with regard to the protection of human rights, equality between women and men and the protection and support of the rights of marriage, family, parents and children.
The Ministry of Welfare previously noted that the convention will help compose a comprehensive and multi-sided legal framework in order to protect women from all forms of violence and protect men and women from domestic violence.
The convention requires member states to develop a coherent policy on violence against women and domestic violence, as well as state institutions to implement inter-institutional cooperation with non-governmental organizations, civil society and the media.
The convention also calls for the involvement of all competent public authorities and services so that violence against women and domestic violence can be addressed in a coordinated manner by developing cooperation regulations, the Ministry of Welfare stressed. At the same time, it stresses the need to collect statistical data on cases of violence against women and domestic violence.
The convention also includes norms that are already covered by other regulations and do not provide Latvia any new duties. For example, the convention includes a non-discrimination clause, which is a standard article in many national and international laws. The Latvian Constitution also stipulates that all people in Latvia are equal before the law and the court, and that human rights are exercised without any discrimination.

Taking into account the requirements included in the convention, it is also important to take measures to inform the public about the problems of violence and opportunities for assistance, as well as to educate specialists.

The law provides that Latvia will retain the right not to apply the first paragraph of Article 55 of the Convention in respect of minor personal injuries covered by Article 35 of the Convention. Thus, Latvia will retain the right not to apply the condition that the investigation and prosecution of physical violence does not depend solely on the application or complaint submitted by the victim of violence in cases where the offence has been committed in whole or in part in the territory of a Member State, and that legal proceedings may continue even if the victim of violence has withdrawn his or her testimony or complaint.
The Istanbul Convention will enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of three months from the date of deposit of its instrument of ratification.
Latvian Minister of Welfare Uldis Augulis previously stressed that during the convention’s ratification, it was stressed multiple times that the controversial term “social gender” has nothing to do with the obligation to introduce any other understanding of gender into the Latvian legal and educational system. It does not introduce any obligation to adopt a different interpretation of the norms and values included in the Constitution. “We have to understand – in the context of the social gender, this is about men and women only,” said the minister.

As previously reported, then the Minister of Welfare of Latvia Jānis Reirs, during his visit to Bulgaria in 2016, signed the Istanbul Convention on Latvia’s behalf.

For years ratification of the Istanbul Convention was a hot potato topic for Latvian politicians. Supporters claimed it would provide a greater stimulus and support in the fight against violence against women. He group that objected against it were concerned about the possible effect the term “gender” and its definition could cause for various fields, education included.
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