Belgium ratifies convention against gender-based violence

Today Belgium deposited at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg its ratification instrument of the Istanbul Convention. Our country now fully adopted this agreement, the Convention of the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Earlier, the Belgian House of Representatives unanimously approved a law agreeing with this Convention. The entry into force of this Convention is a historic step in the Belgian policy against gender-based violence. It encourages our country to pursue its efforts on this matter, through the implementation of a new ‘national action plan against gender-based violence 2015-2019’.

The Convention of the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention, is the first legally binding treaty on the fight against gender-based violence. It provides a wide range of provisions to better prevent such violence, to more effectively protect victims and to prosecute offenders. Measures against gender-based violence are better coordinated within integrated and comprehensive policies.

Belgium has been actively involved in the fight against gender-based violence for many years, considering it a key element in the equality between women and men. Belgium recently adopted a fifth national action plan against gender-based violence (NAP) 2015-2019, which is fully in line with the Istanbul Convention. "Our country considers the Istanbul Convention as the most advanced tool against gender-based violence and therefore decided to use it as reference for developing a national action plan" says Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities Elke Sleurs. The NAP 2015-2019 pursues a coherent and coordinated policy where the federal state, the Communities and the Regions will collaborate closely in order to implemented 235 new measures.

Belgium condemns any form of gender-based violence and adopts its policy within the framework of commitments made at an international level. "By ratifying the Istanbul Convention, our country underlines its willingness to act in favor of human rights, and equality between women and men in particular. It is also with this objective that Belgium has a mandate of 3 years in the United Nations Human Rights Council", Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders says.

The Istanbul Convention can be ratified by Belgium without reservation. This ratification does not involve fundamental legislative changes. It nevertheless encourages us to improve our legislation and regulations on gender-based violence. "Following the Istanbul Convention, our goal is to regularly analyze the effectiveness of resources deployed at the judicial level. Therefore we will assess, and if necessary adapt some of our legislative tools and regulations, for example on temporary prohibition of residence in cases of domestic violence", Minister of Justice Koen Geens says.

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