OSCE PA human rights leaders concerned over Poland's announced withdrawal from treaty on violence against women

COPENHAGEN, 27 July 2020 – Following an announcement stating Poland's intention to withdraw from a treaty on combating violence against women, the leaders of the OSCE PA’s human rights committee expressed concerns over the ongoing developments.

On 26 July 2020, Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told a news conference his ministry would initiate efforts to withdraw from a European treaty on combating violence against women, known as the Istanbul Convention, due to its “ideological nature”.

Following this announcement, the officers of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Chair Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (MP, Cyprus), Vice-Chair Michael Georg Link (MP, Germany), and Rapporteur Kari Henriksen (MP, Norway) issued the following statement:

“We are deeply concerned with recent developments in Poland and its possible withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which is a powerful human rights instrument. The persistence of gender-based violence in all its forms – including domestic and sexual violence – is one of the most pervasive human rights violations throughout the OSCE region. It is deeply disturbing that women across the OSCE region continue to suffer from gender-based violence, which often is unreported and rarely leads to convictions when reported, thereby encouraging a culture of silence and impunity for offenders. We stress once again that gender equality is crucial for sustainable development and peace. We call on Polish authorities to reconsider withdrawal from the convention. Matters of interpretation as well as disputes should be discussed and addressed within its framework.”

The officers noted that the Resolution on Preventing and Combating Gender-Based Violence in the OSCE PA Berlin Declaration of 2018 calls on all OSCE participating States “to pass legislation consistent with international norms and standards that addresses domestic and sexual violence, harassment, including workplace harassment and abuse of authority” and underscores that “participating States should address prejudice and violence to ensure that women can exercise their fundamental human and political rights.”

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which came into force on 1 August 2014, has been signed by 45 countries and the EU and ratified by 34 countries. The Convention sets comprehensive and legally binding standards to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims, and punish perpetrators, and characterizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination. 

Domestic violence in the OSCE region surged this year during months of lockdown aimed at fighting the coronavirus.

In a OSCE PA Parliamentary Web Dialogue  “Gendered Impacts of COVID-19”, held on 15 June 2020, the OSCE PA Special Representative on Gender Issues Hedy Fry (MP, Canada), presented her new report, which details the ways in which the pandemic is affecting issues including gender-based violence, as well as issues related to the women, peace and security agenda and women’s political leadership.

For more on the OSCE PA’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, please click here.



Нэт Пэрри

Начальник отдела коммуникаций и прессы

Офис: +45 33 37 80 55
Мобильный: +45 60 10 81 77
Электронная почта: [email protected]

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