“Unlike previous years, more people apply to law enforcement bodies for help with regard to the domestic violence cases. It has several reasons. One of them is raised awareness of the society. I think it is result of the current policy of the state. More than 855 persons have been arrested under the criminal law for the domestic violence offence in the first three months of 2018. We have a very strict policy,” the director of the Human Rights Department in the Ministry of Internal Affairs Londa Toloraia stated at the conference of Human Rights Center – “Prevention of Violence against Women – Problems and Challenges.”
The new human rights department of the MIA was presented on January 23, 2018 and it instilled huge expectations in the society. As the government’s resolution reads, the main goals of the department is, within its competence, to timely react to and ensure effective investigation into the facts of domestic violence, violence against women, crimes committed based on discrimination motives, trafficking and juvenile crimes. Also, the new department is authorized to cooperate and coordinate with the human rights state bodies and nongovernmental organizations.
“In 2014, 817 restraining orders were issued; in 2015 their number was more than 2500. In 2016 – more than 2800 restraining orders were issued and in 2017 the number of the orders reached 4 500. In 2018, so far, 1402 restraining orders were issued. We often ask how effective the restraining order is and whether it ensures effective protection of the victim. First of all, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that issuing restraining order does not exclude possibility to start investigation into the fact. There were cases when investigation started in parallel to restraining orders and the perpetrator was sent to prison. So, we cannot say that the restraining order has only temporary affect; I do not think it is correct to have doubts about this mechanism,” Londa Toloraia said.
During the conference of HRC, the head of the human rights department spoke about the challenges of the department. She said although the number of reports to the law enforcement officers has increased, there are cases when victims do not inform police about their problems. Often they apply to police late, when it is too difficult to collect evidence; sometimes the victims try to cover the facts of violence and do not provide law enforcement officers with complete information. Often the victims of violence ask the police officers not to arrest the harasser but only “scare” them.
“There is one more problem, when victims apply to us timely, inform us about the problem but then change their testimonies, or use the advantage not to make testimony against close relative. Of course it creates problems for the investigation; another challenge is engagement of the society in this process. Although third person may have information that her/his neighbors have problems in the family, he/she rarely interferes in the conflicts of neighbor families. Neighbors rarely report us about domestic violence facts,” Londa Toloraia said.
According to her, one of the problems is lack of support to the domestic violence victims and aggression towards them. The society often blames the victim in the violence and rebuke her for applying to law enforcement bodies for help.
“Next challenge is lack of services. It is very important to empower the violence victims and engage harassers into rehabilitation programs so that they acknowledged their mistakes. It should be taken into account that after a while the harassers and victims will continue living together and it is important to provide them with the services, which will prevent future incidents in their families.
As for other challenges, it is import to build capacity of investigators, to monitor implementation of restraining orders and to create adequate environment for the victims in police stations which will enable them to freely participate in the investigation process. Consequently, our plan is to address abovementioned challenges,” said Londa Toloraia, director of the human rights department in the MIA.
According to Toloraia, the department monitors all criminal cases, where investigation has started. The department monitors the cases of domestic violence. She said the HR department actively cooperates with the staff of 112. “We want to have well-accomplished program which will switch on SOS signal when the emergency center receives phone calls from one and the same person several times; it will help us to know that this person needs particular attention.”
Representatives of nongovernmental organizations positively evaluate the work of the new department of the MIA. Nongovernmental organization Sapari sent several cases to the new department.
“We have already applied to the new department of the MIA with regard to several cases – about 5-7 cases. They declared readiness to start investigation in the correct direction. The investigator, who is sensitive towards the problems of women, was put in charge of those cases and she will work on them with full responsibility. We had several cases when harassers were already charged and the new department cannot interfere there. So far, I can evaluate the work of the new department positively because they are very motivated and immediately respond to our reports,” the lawyer of Sapari Eliso Rukhadze told humanrights.ge.
Human Rights Center also cooperates with the new department of the ministry.
“Human Rights Center was engaged in the formation process of the new department from the very beginning. Ministry of Internal Affairs shared all versions of the new department with us and heard our positions. The civil society positively evaluated the idea of the new human rights department and peculiarities of its work. By now I have sent one case to the department, which was immediately reacted: they started investigation and restraining order was issued. I cannot say how they will finalize this process, we will monitor it. I positively evaluate the initiative to establish electronic bracelet system for the harassers in order to control when they approach the victims. It will be good mechanism to protect the women. At this moment, I can say only positive about the department; let’s wait how they will develop their work in future,” HRC lawyer Eka Kobesashvili said.
The director of the human rights department of the MIA Londa Toloraia suggests the society to cooperate with them and requests to break silence for their own sake and apply to law enforcement bodies for help.
The article was prepared in the frame of the project – “Trial Monitoring for Women”, which is implemented by Human Rights Center with the Bulgarian Development Aid. The views in the article does not necessarily express the views of the donor and it is responsible for the content of the article.