Latvian Justice Minister: system around domestic violence is 'rotten'

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In terms of attitudes toward domestic violence, the system is "rotten", Justice Minister Inese Lībiņa-Egnere (New Unity) said in an interview on Latvian Television May 2.

The minister acknowledged that the murder of the long-persecuted woman in Jēkabpils was a disgrace to the country. “And it is also a very serious disgrace that this subject – violence against women – is still not considered to be a criminal offense which needs to be investigated and judicial, but which can be sneered at,” the Minister said.

The Minister has instructed the Ministry of Justice to improve the Criminal Procedure Law by identifying domestic violence as a priority criminal process. She was convinced that the necessary improvements would be made from a legislative point of view.

But in terms of attitudes to domestic violence, "the system is rotten", she added.

The politician said that domestic violence should not be attached to any ideology. “These criminals are often not reported because they are ideologized, stigmatized. And we have smaller statistics on violent crime, smaller than in countries that have ratified the [Istanbul] convention, not because the society is better, but because they are not reported, they are kept silent, glossed over and stigmatized,” said Lībiņa-Egnere.

She called on politicians to read and support the Istanbul Convention, which aims to combat violence against women and domestic violence. At present, only two out of seven Saeima factions have expressed clear support for its approval – New Unity and Progressives.

The fact that Latvia as a country is not effective in preventing domestic violence, the former President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers also said in an interview with LTV. In his opinion, it can be improved both with and without the Istanbul Convention.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Progressive Party's Saeima faction, Kaspars Briškens, said in an interview with Latvian Radio that a separate department on the investigation and control of violent crimes should be established in the police. In his opinion, responsibility is currently being avoided.

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