On August 9-13, 2021, Vilnius University, Faculty of Law experts – prof. dr. Jurgita Paužaitė-Kulvinskienė, dr. Dovilė Pūraitė-Andrikienė, assoc. prof. dr. Ilona Michailovič and associate professor of practice Arūnas Meška went to the capital of Azerbaijan Baku. In recent months, during the activities of the European Union-funded Twinning Program project “Strengthening the capacity of State bodies and local level referral mechanisms to provide safety and support to victims of domestic violence in Azerbaijan“, the experts have analyzed international practice and the legal system of Azerbaijan, participated in remote discussions with Azerbaijani judges, police officers, civil servants and NGO representatives, proposed recommendations that would strengthen the situation of victims of domestic violence, contribute to the overall prevention of violence and modernize work with perpetrators in Azerbaijan. The delegation met with the leadership of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of the Interior in Baku and discussed the recommendations made.
The experts presented different ways on how domestic violence is included in the criminal codes of various countries of the European Union, described the operation of legal aid and the need for an individual assessment of the victim’s needs and the degree of risk. Moreover, the experts also discussed the situation in the process of children who are considered victims but who are not necessarily directly abused. Finally, alternatives to fines were discussed, which would not impose a financial burden on the victim of violence himself/herself.
It is important that expert assistance in sharing the experience of the European Union countries directly contributes to the changes in Azerbaijan. The beneficiary of the project – the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs, on the basis of recommendations, prepared draft amendments to the Criminal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Code of Administrative Offenses, also the draft Law on Domestic Violence. The proposals were broadly supported by other country ministries and stakeholders. The package of regulatory changes is expected to reach the Parliament in the near future.
The European Union-funded Twinning Program project “Strengthening the capacity of State bodies and local level referral mechanisms to provide safety and support to victims of domestic violence in Azerbaijan” implemented since September 2020 by Vilnius University together with partners (Ministry of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, Law Institute of Lithuania) will last until 2022.