The new Czech government led by conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS, ECR) wants to delay the decision on the Istanbul Convention’s ratification despite increasing pressure from Brussels.
As Deník N learnt, the ratification could damage relations in the five-party governing coalition.
In November 2021, the European Parliament called on Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Bulgaria to immediately ratify the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, as they are the only EU countries that have not done it so far.
In its official program statement, the new Czech government promised another approach to victims of sexual violence. “We will ensure better protection for victims of sexual and domestic violence,” the document reads.
However, Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blažek (ODS, ECR) has asked for discussions about the Convention to be postponed for a year. Blažek explained this move with a need for further political debates on this issue.
“In view of the new political composition of the Chamber of Deputies, he (Minister) has requested that the deadline for discussion be postponed until the end of January 2023. The government should deal with the task by that time,” the government spokesperson said.
The Czech Republic signed the Convention in 2016 but never ratified it, as it needs the approval of both parliamentary chambers and the president’s signature.
According to statements of several Czech MPs quoted by Deník N, there is a clear lack of political will for a change.
While conservative lawmakers criticise the Convention for being useless, saying that Czech law provides sufficient protection to victims, liberal MPs are reluctant to take sides publicly.
The Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe against violence against women and domestic violence which was opened for signature on 11 May 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey.
The convention aims at prevention of violence, victim protection and ending the impunity of perpetrators.
As of March 2019, it has been signed by 45 countries and the European Union. On 12 March 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the convention, followed by 34 other countries from 2013 to 2021.