A significant step in ramping up European efforts to tackle domestic violence will be taken in Dublin on Friday, as most of the 46 members of the Council of Europe adopt a joint declaration on key issues.
Aimed primarily at tackling cultural norms that perpetuate the crime, the “Dublin declaration” also commits states to ensure children are heard in custody disputes where domestic violence is a factor and that “safe custody and visitation arrangements” are made.
At least 32 member states have indicated they will adopt the declaration as efforts continued late into Thursday to convince Turkey, Poland, Hungary and Azerbaijan among others to sign up.
The declaration will be formally adopted on the second day of a two-day conference at the RDS, hosted by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, titled “No safe haven: Integrated prevention measures to end domestic, sexual and gender-based violence”.
While 14 of the council members had yet to formally declare their support for the declaration, senior sources close to the Minister indicated on Thursday a significant majority were expected to come on board by lunchtime.
A draft of the declaration, seen by The Irish Times, includes commitments by signatory states to include specific roles for men and boys in strategies to combat violence against women and girls; to ensure gender equality, non-stereotype role modelling and non-violent conflict resolution will be included in school and college curriculums at “all levels”, and that in-service training addressing prejudices that could obstruct effective protection of victims be provided to criminal justice personnel.
On children, it says signatories will take “all possible measures to ensure that episodes of violence are taken into consideration by courts when deciding about custody and visitation rights.
“To this end, [they will] recognise that safe custody and visitation arrangements are a big contribution to the prevention of the continuation of domestic violence as well as of its replication by future generations.”
They will “call also on our states to ensure that the voice of the child is heard in handling cases of domestic violence and other abuses that affect them”.
Women’s Aid said it “strongly welcomes” the declaration and a “significant and important” step for women and children across Europe.
The declaration comes three months after Ms McEntee published the third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, and aligns with commitments made when Ireland ratified the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in March 2019.
Though all council members, except Azerbaijan, have signed the Istanbul Convention, Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and the Slovak Republic have not ratified it.