Law Reform Efforts: Domestic Violence in Belarus

Submitted by k.shmacina on Thu, 2016-08-04 14:33
Revised by k.shmacina on Thu, 2016-08-04 14:55

The National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus adopted the Law on the Basis for Prevention of Offenses in January 2014. The Law was elaborated in cooperation with the UNFPA as part of the technical legal assistance program.[1]

The Law imposes additional measures for prevention of domestic conflicts, including registration for preventive control and issuance of a restraining order. [2] 

The Law defines domestic violence as deliberate physical, psychological, sexual abuse towards a family member which results in violation of rights, freedoms, legitimate interests and causes physical and (or) mental sufferings.

The term “family members” includes relatives and other individuals who share household. Thus, the law protects not only spouses in registered marriage, but also relatives and other cohabiting individuals.

Application of individual preventive measures is staged and includes preventive conversation, a formal warning, registration for preventive control and issuance of a restraining order.

Registration for preventive control envisages appearing at the police agency when summoned and participating in the conducted prevention activities at least once per month.  If a person registered with the police agency commits a repeated offense against a family member, a restraining order may be issued.

A restraining order is intended to prohibit a domestic violence offender to attempt to find out the whereabouts, to visit or communicate with the victim of domestic violence. A restraining order also ensures the safety of victims finding shelter.

According to a press release issued in February 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs advocates for adoption of a special law on prevention of domestic violence. In particular, the new law shall provide rehabilitation mechanism for victims.[3]

Belarusian expert community presented recommendations for the draft law on prevention of domestic violence.[4] Recommendations are based on practical experience of the “Gender Perspectives”, the organization that administers the national domestic violence hotline. The experts suggest 1) to elaborate the definition of domestic violence by including economic abuse and a threat of violence; 2) to expand the scope of law on divorced spouses; 3) domestic violence cases shall be transferred from private to public prosecution, in order to eliminate a connection between the punishment of abuser and victim’s statement.