Compatibility of domestic legal norms on sexual offenses with the international standards in this area, is debated today in the discussions held today, in Chisinau, within the domestic community of professionals.
The topic is evaluated in the context of an international workshop, organized by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Moldova and the International Center “La Strada”.
Attending the event, the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova, Victoria IFTODI, mentioned in her welcome word, that opened the workshop: “Eradication of the phenomenon of domestic violence, which includes physical, sexual, psychological or spiritual violence, regardless of sex or age, requires not only that measures are undertaken by the state authorities, but also the widest possible sensitization of the society”. The minister also informed that the Ministry of Justice is currently drafting a new justice sector reform strategy, while improving the criminal legislation on combatting sexual crimes shall be a priority in the activity of the Ministry. “Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight the importance and usefulness of discussions at this workshop, that will bring an added value to the lawmaking process”, the minister also said.
The organizers’ invitation was given course by more than 40 participants, among which representatives of the ministries, representatives of the Prosecutor’s General Office and the Supreme Court of Justice, representatives of the General Police Inspectorate, practicing judges and prosecutors and experts from NGOs, active in human rights protection.
The main purpose of the workshop is to consult within the professional community in the area the set of recommendations on improving the criminal norms in the area. The discussions focused on a complex report, developed by renowned domestic experts and coordinated by the IC “La Strada”.
Daniela MISAIL-NICHITIN, Women Program Director at IC “La Strada” and the report coordinator explained: “Today’s exercise is an important step for the Republic of Moldova, which brings closer the moment when the Istanbul Convention would be ratified. Or, it aims at achieving three large objectives. Firstly, we need to discuss discrepancies between the domestic law and the international standards. Secondly, we want to discuss the proposals aimed at improving the domestic normative framework. And, obviously, we shall look at the practice of the countries which have already ratified the Istanbul Convention and have advanced towards efficient response in cases of sexual violence”.
One of the speakers at the workshop, Nicola-Daniel CANGEMI, head of the European Committee for Social Cohesion, Human Dignity and Equality of the Council of Europe, argued for the need to change the traditional interpretation of rape, currently reflected by the criminal legal framework of the Republic of Moldova. He referred to one of the Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, which stated that a rigid approach to criminal prosecution of sexual crimes, such as the need to prove physical resistance in any circumstances, risks to leave certain types of rape unpunished, jeopardizing the person’s effective protection.
“Consent is essential when it comes to sexual relations. Obviously, this does not mean that you need to sign a contract. But it is essential that partners communicate with each other and make sure that all sexual activity that they engage into happens with their mutual consent”, GANGEMI said. “The central element of the definition of sexual violence in the Istanbul Convention is the lack of consent, given voluntarily by the victim. This definition does not focus on the use of force or threats by the offender. Neither it requests the proof of physical or verbal resistance by the victim”, the international expert stated.
The workshop participants learned about how Spain and Sweden adapted the new consent law to their domestic legal framework. The good practice of these two states, with challenges and concrete solutions, had been presented by our experts Elena Laporta Hernandez, lawyer, expert specialized in women’s rights (Madrid) and respectively, by Silvia Ingolfsdottir Åkermark, lawyer, former prosecutor (Stockholm).