Czech Republic Senate rejects Istanbul Convention – JURIST

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The Czech Republic Senate voted against ratifying the Istanbul Convention, a convention from the Council of Europe (COE) intended to curb domestic violence and violence against women.

Czech Minister for European Affairs Martin Dvořák expressed his frustration with the failed vote on X (formerly known as Twitter) calling it an “international disgrace.” He commented on the traditional values of many Czech families and the greater need to turn the “rudder.” Dvořák stated that “we are sending a very bad signal to women and girls that we do not consider it necessary to protect victims of domestic violence.”

The COE forged the Istanbul Convention in Istanbul, and signed it in 2011, coming into force in 2014. The Czech Republic signed the convention in 2016, but has yet to ratify it. The Convention is aimed at protecting women against all forms of violence, and preventing, prosecuting and eliminating violence against women and domestic violence. The European Commission has found that 1 in 3 women in the European Union (EU) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence. 

There has been opposition to its ratification from conservative opponents across Europe. Polish MEP Patryk Jaki criticized the convention, saying that “enforcing gender ideology can have negative consequences, such as tragic outcomes for individuals and the eroding of traditional communities that protect people from violence.”

The COE consists of 46 member states. 39 member states have ratified the convention, 6 members have signed but not yet ratified and 1 member has not signed at all. Other than the Czech Republic, other members that have yet to ratify are Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania and the Slovak Republic.

These reluctant members have been encouraged by the EU to ratify the convention, with the EU voting to jointly adopt the convention in 2023. The EU was given permission by the EU Court of Justice to jointly ratify the convention with only a majority vote of member states. The EU’s accession to the convention does not exempt member states from ratifying it themselves.

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