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Domestic Violence Bill in Armenia Undergoes Sudden and Significant Changes

At the Thursday sitting of the Armenian government, justice minister Davit Harutyunyan presented the final version of the controversial bill on preventing domestic violence։ the current draft is called “on prevention of family violence, protection of persons subjected to family violence, restoration of family cohesion.”

The final version published on the government’s official website shows that the bill has undergone several significant amendments since it was first put to public discussion early last month. For one, the authors of the bill now think that the future law should be guided by the principle of “strengthening traditional family values and restoring family cohesion.”

In addition, a number of concepts and mechanisms for protecting victims of domestic violence have been removed from the draft. The definition of domestic violence has also been limited and narrowed down: according to the final draft, violence committed by a former or a separately-living spouse, for example, does not constitute domestic violence, and the future law therefor will not cover this type of crimes.

“Persons allegedly subjected to domestic violence” will not be able to use the law to seek justice for the crime committed against them either, since the concept has been removed from the draft; the law will solely apply to cases in which the state has somehow confirmed the fact of violence.

Recall, a 2016 research conducted by the Yerevan-based Union of Informed Citizens NGO had revealed that the main opposers of the domestic violence bill – Pan-Armenian Parental Committee; Stop G7; Yerevan Geopolitical Club; HASAK Political Party; “Luys” Information and Analytical Center; For Restoration of Sovereignty; Iravunk Newspaper; Sputnik Armenia – were either pro-Russian groups or those heavily dependent on Russian money.