The Istanbul Convention was signed by Italy on 27th September 2012 and the Parliament authorised its ratification with Law 77/2013.
The convention has as its object the prevention and fight against violence against women and domestic violence. It entered into force in 2014, once the minimum number of ratifying countries was reached, namely 8. There are currently 33 signatory countries, including those that are not members of the Council of Europe, the institution that drew up the convention.
Its importance concerns mainly the fact that it is the first internationally binding legal instrument in the field of gender-based violence and domestic violence, obliging signatory states to adopt concrete measures within their own legal systems.
In particular, in Article 1, all the purposes that the convention intends to achieve are defined, such as (1) protecting women from all forms of violence, achieving its elimination and the eradication of domestic violence, (2) helping to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and promoting concrete equality between the sexes, strengthening their autonomy and self-determination, (3) preparing a global framework, policies and measures of protection and assistance in favour of all victims of violence, including domestic violence, promote international cooperation in order to eliminate these crimes, (4) support and assist the enforcement of organisations and authorities so that they can collaborate effectively, in order to adopt an integrated approach to the elimination of violence against women and domestic violence.
The Convention specifies that “violence against women” means the violation of human rights and all forms of discrimination against them, including all acts of violence based on gender that cause or are likely to cause harm or suffering of a physical nature, sexual, psychological or economic, including threats to commit such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, both in public and private life.
The term “domestic violence” also designates all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or family unit or between current or previous spouses or partners, regardless of whether the perpetrator of such acts shares or has shared the same residence with the victim.
To art. 4, entitled Fundamental rights, equality and non-discrimination, the convention establishes that "The Parties condemn all forms of discrimination against women and adopt without delay the legislative and other measures necessary to prevent it, in particular:
- by incorporating the principle of equality between the sexes into their national constitutions or any other appropriate legislative provision and ensuring the effective application of this principle;
- prohibiting discrimination against women, including by applying sanctions where appropriate;
- by repealing the laws and practices that discriminate against women.”
As specified by the Council of Europe, the provisions do not apply only to women: the signatory states are called upon to introduce and enforce measures to protect all the victims of those forms of violence covered by the convention, even if they are men, children and the elderly.
In chapter IX, the convention introduces the so-called “GREVIO” that is an independent group of experts on the fight against violence against women and domestic violence, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Istanbul Convention.
The group must consist of a minimum of 10 members, up to a maximum of 15. The top 10 experts were elected on May 4, 2015 for a four-year term; having reached the ratification of the convention also by Germany on 12 October 2015 and, therefore, the number of 25 total ratifications, the other 5 appointments were made official in May 2018, starting their four-year duration from 1 September 2018.
Article 66 also provides that, for the composition of the group, factors of gender and geographical location are taken into account, as well as multidisciplinary competences in the field of human rights, gender equality, violence against women and violence care or assistance and protection of victims. The members of GREVIO must be citizens of States party to the Convention. Integrity, competence, independence, availability and knowledge of languages (English and / or French) are the guiding principles for the appointment and election of the members of GREVIO. The Convention entrusted the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe with the task of defining the procedure for the election of the members of GREVIO.
THE MEASURES ADOPTED BY ITALY AFTER THE RATIFICATION OF THE CONVENTION
In addition to naming the so-called red code, introduced with Law 69/2019, Italy has adopted other measures in the fight against violence against women, such as Law 119/2013 which introduced the obligation of authorities to support and promote a vast network of assistance to victims, in addition to the legislative decree n.80 / 2015 on the subject of special paid leave for victims of gender-based violence, and the legislation on stalking, adopted already in 2009.
However, GREVIO noted that the Italian situation has ample room for improvement and, among other suggestions, encourages the Italian authorities to develop and improve the accessibility of protection and support services for women victims of violence who are or could be “exposed to intersectional discrimination”, raising awareness of their rights and improving access to protection and support services.
Translated by Lucica Oana Maris