Spotlight Round Table on discussion of the amendments to Domestic Violence Law: Welcome Speech by UNDP Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic Ms. Louise Chamberlain

November 12, 2021

Good morning!

On behalf of UNDP, I am happy to welcome you to this public discussion on proposed amendments to the Law “On Safeguarding and Protection from Domestic Violence”, organized within the ongoing comprehensive inventory of the legal framework of the Kyrgyz Republic. Our sincere appreciation to the EU for our joint UN partnership under the Spotlight Initiative to end violence and discrimination against women and girls in Kyrgyzstan.

Today is a follow-up event that summarizes a series of further consultations among government, the community of experts and civil society to review legislation, identify existing gaps and loopholes and propose concrete solutions to effectively prevent and respond to cases of domestic violence.  This law sets the standard for what society will tolerate and how law enforcement entities must behave; therefore, discussing this subject from a legislative standpoint is essential.

Violence against women is not just a criminal act. It breaks families apart and has social and has high negative socioeconomic costs for the entire nation. It is also a pervasive problem, and we see the risk of a society normalising violence, to the detriment of the social fabric. A more forceful law to end violence, supported by strong enforcement mechanisms, can help curb and eliminate violence in the home, which is the place where each and every one of us expects to feel safe.

As many of you know, a Delegation of the Kyrgyz Republic just came back from Geneva, having participated in the 80th session of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW, which is the international charter of women's rights. CEDAW defines and sets an agenda for national action to end discrimination against women.

In its comments on Kyrgyzstan’s progress, the CEDAW Committee acknowledged the state's continuing efforts to protect women and girls despite the difficult circumstances caused by the COVID pandemic. At the same time, noting the escalation of gender-based violence, the Committee recommended to undertake additional efforts towards strengthening more comprehensive and supportive response to survivors with urgency.

In this regard, it is absolutely critical to improve the performance of the justice sector – as a whole – in order to integrate human rights-based, survivor-centered and gender-sensitive practices in the prevention of, and response to, violence against women and girls, and here the role of law enforcement personnel s absolutely central. Therefore, the central question we must address today is how to improve the legal tools to more effectively protect survivors of domestic violence, and hold perpetrators to account.

I want to commend the Jogorku Kenesh and the Cabinet of Ministers for initiating today's discussion and creating the space for meaningful dialogue on this important subject with all interested parties. It is a privilege for UNDP to work with you in this endeavor and we greatly appreciate your trust and leadership.

We further welcome the establishment of a new Department for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, under the Public Security Service of the Ministry of the Interior. Just yesterday the Department held their first important meeting with civil society and development partners to elaborate a joint action plan.

We also welcome the decision of the Department of Probation under the Ministry of Justice and the State Service for Sentencing to take part in the rehabilitation programme for convicted perpetrators. The set up of rehabilitation schemes for perpetrators is crucial to prevent repeat offending and to protect women’s safety.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Baiasalov, allow me to express my personal appreciation for your presence here today as a senior member of the Cabinet. While I know that your duties and functions so compel, it is very important that we hear the voices of Kyrgyzstani men in setting the norms and standing up for the need to end violence against women and creating an equal society based on the respect for human rights.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome again to this round table. I look forward to very productive proceedings resulting in a reinforced law today. Thank you.