The Government of Georgia has approved the National Action Plan on the Implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, and the National Action Plan on the Measures to be Implemented for Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims/Survivors, both covering the 2016-2017 period. These policy documents introduce several new developments, as described in a recent interview with Sopo Japaridze, Assistant to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Gender Equality Issues.
Q: The 2016-2017 National Action Plan on the Measures to be Implemented for Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims/Survivors (DV/VAWG NAP) covers the issues of violence against women and girls (VAWG) more broadly than its predecessor. Why was the scope expanded, and what are the innovations of the NAP?
SJ: Among the key objectives of this NAP – developed in close consultation with numerous stakeholders, including civil society organizations – was the enhancement of domestic protection mechanisms and harmonization of current legislation with the Istanbul Convention signed by the Georgian Minister of Justice on 19 June 2014.
Several amendments to existing laws were adopted in 2014. For example, “neglect” as a form of domestic violence in relation to juveniles was introduced in the Georgian Anti-Domestic Violence Law; the Law of Georgia on Legal Aid now incorporates the obligation of providing legal aid to the victims of domestic violence at the expense of the State. We should also mention the criminalization of forced marriage and amendments to the law on imprisonment. According to the latter, the Ministry of Corrections is obligated to offer mandatory courses to perpetrators of domestic crimes, aimed at curbing violent attitudes and behaviors.
Despite the adopted amendments, there is still much work to be done to ensure full harmonization of national legislation with the Istanbul Convention. With the purpose of ratifying the Istanbul Convention, the Ministry of Justice of Georgia drafted a second package of legislative amendments in 2015, aimed at amending 17 various legislative acts. These draft amendments go well beyond domestic violence issues, addressing the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls in general.
As for the other developments, I should especially point to diverse initiatives targeting the general public: raising awareness of DV/VAWG issues as a human rights violation and crime; disseminating information about access to services available for victims/survivors; improving the quality of these services; and ensuring that victims/survivors and the organizations representing their interests are more actively involved in the process of drafting the DV/VAWG-related policies and legislation. Significant importance under the NAP is paid to the development and implementation of programmes aimed at changing violent attitudes and behaviors. The NAP also addresses one of the forms of violence against girls – early marriage – by focusing strongly on its prevention.
Q: In 2012, Georgia was the first country in the South Caucasus to adopt and implement a National Action Plan on UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). There have been some lessons learned from the process and recommendations made by civil society and other stakeholders for the second, 2016-2017 NAP. How have these been reflected in the new plan?
SJ: For Georgia – as a country where 20 per cent of its territory is still occupied by the Russian Federation and where more than 53 per cent of the officially registered 269,541 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are women – UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security and its related resolutions are of paramount importance. Women’s participation in ensuring peace and security at all levels is critical.
Like the first National Action Plan (2012-2015), the second National Action Plan was developed on the grounds of broad consultations; there were consultations with the ministries and state agencies in charge of implementing the NAP, as well as with the representatives of civil society and grass-roots IDP and conflict-affected women. The National Action Plan for 2016-2017 took into account the recommendations obtained from these wide consultations and is based on lessons learned from the implementation of the previous NAP.
The executive branch of the Government will continue to coordinate the implementation of the National Action Plan on resolution 1325 (2000). As the Assistant to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Gender Equality Issues, I have had the honour of chairing the intersectorial coordination group, which oversees the implementation of the NAP. The new NAP has better-defined tasks and implementation responsibilities for each ministry. It provides space for meaningful involvement of women’s organizations and women’s voices, including IDP and conflict-affected women. The NAP’s goals, objectives and indicators have been significantly improved in order to better monitor and report on the NAP’s progress. Also, while the initial costing of the NAP has been made, it needs to be revisited in line with the 2017 budget processes.
The National Action Plan represents an important policy instrument developed in response to Georgia’s commitments undertaken in the area of gender equality and women’s empowerment. I am confident that the new NAP will make a significant contribution to the achievement of sustainable peace, security and democratic development in Georgia and also in the whole region.