The bill will embed a definition of domestic violence, lacking in Czech legislation until now. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, May 9 (CTK) – A new bill on domestic violence is designed to establish a consistent approach to domestic violence victims between the courts, police and child social and legal protection authorities, said the government’s human rights commissioner Klara Simackova Laurencikova, who presented the draft legislation today.

She added that the bill will embed a definition of domestic violence, lacking in Czech legislation until now.

The bill will now go through the comments procedure in the next few days, and will then be debated by the government.

Simacka Laurencikova said that if passed, the law should take effect in July 2024.

“Domestic violence is a persistent and serious problem in our society,” the commissioner said, adding that it was the most widespread of all forms of violence.

“The term domestic violence is explicitly mentioned in eight key laws. However, no law defines it,” she noted.

The Civil Code should now clearly define what behaviour is classified as domestic violence and who is a victim of it.

The draft legislation describes domestic violence as “conduct towards the victim which has unjustifiably infringed or is likely to infringe on the person’s mental or physical integrity, freedom and dignity, especially in the sexual sphere, respectability, honour and privacy”. Domestic violence also includes interference with the victim’s ability to meet their needs, and abuse of power and unequal status.

“The lack of a legislative definition leads to a fragmentation of understanding and interpretation of domestic violence by the key bodies – police, child social and legal protection authorities, courts, medical and non-medical professions, schools and administrative authorities,” said Simacka Laurencikova. She added that an inconsistent approach to victims prevents the provision of timely and appropriate assistance.

The bill also contains an amendment to the Civil Code, under which courts will have to take into account the possibility of domestic violence when deciding on child custody and the division of joint property during divorce proceedings.

A change in the Rules of Civil Procedure will prohibit the ordering of mediation in divorce proceedings in cases of domestic violence. Another part of the bill stipulates that the staff of the child social and legal protection authority will have to propose that a proxy be appointed in criminal proceedings in which a child is the victim of a crime.

The draft also provides for an amendment to the law on police, which extends the length of eviction from the common household in cases of domestic violence from 10 to 14 days and introduces the obligation for the police to confiscate a firearm from the evicted person. In cases of minor offences involving domestic violence, victims will then be entitled to be accompanied by a confidant and prevented from contact with the perpetrator of violence.

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