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The Amendments Process of the Law on Domestic Violence in Honduras. Expert Group Meeting on good practices in legislation on violence against women United Nations Office at Vienna, Austria 26 to 28 May 2008 Claudia Herrmannsdorfer
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TheAmendments Process of the Law on Domestic Violence in Honduras Expert Group Meeting on good practices in legislation on violence against women United Nations Office at Vienna, Austria 26 to 28 May 2008 Claudia Herrmannsdorfer Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM)
Origin and Support for Amendments of the Law on Domestic Violence (LDV) • The LDV was approved in 1997 as a result of women’s organizations advocacy. This civil law is sustained on CEDAW and in the Interamerican Convention to Prevent, Sanction and Eradicate VAW (Belén do Pará Convention). • Since 1998, the Special Inter-institutional Commission for Monitoring Implementation of the Law against Domestic Violence was formed to coordinate actions between state institutions and implement best practices. Women´s ngos belong to this Commission.
Amendments process… • Experience on implementation caused the necessity to work on amendments that included better mechanisms for the effectiveness of the LDV in its principal objective: to prevent and protect women against domestic violence. • For 2004 the Inter-institutional Commission had an amendment proposal, deeply discussed and agreed nationwide with state institutions and women’s organizations advocates.
Amendments process: support • At the same time, PAHO (Panamerican Health Organization), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), was working on a model for legislation in domestic violence for Latin America and decided to validate some components of the model in the amendments process in Honduras. • This model for legislation on domestic violence was a result of investigations in the countries of the region and different experts meetings and conclusions. • The Inter-institutional Commission of Honduras included in the amendments, recommendations of the PAHO model. • Women’s organizations had more arguments to include some forms of domestic violence that were not well received by state institutions, for example: restrictions on family planning rights as part of sexual domestic violence. • The amendments proposal was approved by Congress and is effective since 2006
Significant amendments approved: • Protection orders and other measures were clarified and extended: • Police, prosecutors and/or judges can issue protection orders. • Firearms possession permissions can be withdrawn. • Women have preference rights to stay at home. • Repeated acts of domestic violence should be indicted as criminal cases.
Significant amendments approved: • Judges can apply a precautionary embargo to grant child support. • Major household items are attributed to women. • The time for the different protection mechanisms was extended to a minimum of two months and a maximum of six. • In case of patrimonial violence, the offender has the obligation of full compensation to the survivor, repair damages and pay bills occasioned to attend the effects of the domestic violence acts.
Significant amendments approved: • Better coordination and accountability mechanisms were established: • Special judges to follow-up sentences compliance. • Police, prosecutors and/or judges can follow-up compliance of protection orders. • Judges have the obligation to investigate causes of women’s abandonment in the cases they file. Cases can not be closed without this investigation.
Significant amendments approved: • Better and extended definitions of the different forms of violence: • Sexual violence included the restriction for contraception and protection. • Patrimonial violence was added and widely defined. • Psychological violence was defined incorporating all the PAHO model legislation recommendations.
Significant amendments approved: • Involving other sectors of the society and state institutions: • Employers (private and public sector) acquire the obligation to grant permissions to employees that have to attend some measures imposed by judges in the implementation of the LDV, like reeducation sessions for men and self-support groups for women. • The National Women’s Institute and the municipalities have the obligation to install shelters.
Conclusions • The LDV was amended considering omissions, gaps and different problems found in the implementation of the original legislation. It was important to have a stronger civil law, with a faster and more accessible procedure. • Coordination between state institutions and women’s ngos was important in the amendments process to guarantee improvements in behalf of women’s human rights. • International interest and support was important to achieve a better law. The PAHO support allowed the opportunity to include the lessons learned in other countries of the region.