Women Empowerment Talks: “Access to justice for victims of violence against women: advancing the implementation of the Istanbul Convention“

08 December 2020

On 28 November 2020, the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) organized the third in a series of “Women Empowerment Talks” on the topic "Access to justice for victims of violence against women: advancing the implementation of the Istanbul Convention".

Moderated by Johanna Valenius, Head of EULEX’s Monitoring Pillar, the panel consisted of Judge Shpresa Emra, State Prosecutor Ilirjana Çollaku Tafa and Chiara Tagliani, EULEX’s Gender Advisor. The panelists discussed the way forward towards the effective implementation of the standards of the Istanbul Convention regarding access to justice for victims of violence against women.The discussions also focused on the main challenges women and girls who are victims of domestic violence face in accessing justice institutions.

Judge Shpresa Emra pointed out that until recently domestic violence cases were considered to be a private matter:  “As judges and legal professionals, we are trying to properly implement the legislation. Now, with the inclusion of the Istanbul Convention, domestic violence is no longer considered as a private matter.” Judge Emra recalls that there was not a system in place where such cases would be prioritized and that cases of domestic violence would often be forgotten somewhere together with other cases, thus endangering the rights of the victims. With the help and the professional support of victims’ advocates and the Kosovo Police, access to justice for victims has improved significantly. 

But to what extent does the national legislation mirror the necessity of using a victim-centered approach and of working with perpetrators on rehabilitation?

According to State Prosecutor Iliriana Collaku Tafa, the work with the victims and the perpetrators is a rather long-term solution and is often a better solution for the victim and the victim’s family. “Based on the Criminal Code of Kosovo, the court may impose a conditional sentence against the perpetrator with an order for mandatory rehabilitation treatment,” she said.

All panelists see the adoption of the Istanbul Convention as a big step forward in helping the implementation of legislation and in improving access to justice for victims of domestic violence. This will further encourage the authorities to develop mechanisms that would work in this direction.

According to EULEX’s Gender Advisor, Chiara Tagliani, the Istanbul Convention is “the most far-reaching legal instrument to combat and prevent violence against women”. “The spirit of the Convention brings this comprehensive and holistic approach as being the only way towards the effective prevention and combating of violence against women,” noted Tagliani.

The “Women’s Empowerment Talks” are part of EULEX’s activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign.