“Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence”
within the PGG Project
“Strengthening Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence
in the Six Eastern Partnership Countries”
(Strasbourg, 18-19 October 2018)
Deputy director of the Institute for re-training and qualification upgrading of judges, prosecutors and legal professionals
at the Belarusian State University
“The road so far: taking stock of progress made on Women’s Access to Justice in the six Eastern Partnership countries and beyond”
I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the conference for the opportunity to share our experience of training lawyers-professionals in issues related to ensuring access to justice for women victims of violence and how the tools developed in the framework of the regional project “Improving Women’s Access to Justice in the Six Eastern Partnership Countries” are used or can be used in these matters.
1. First of all I’d like to note that ensuring gender equality is the task that has solved by the Republic of Belarus since independence has been gained.
Consistent implementation of National gender equality action plans and government programs on various aspects of the advancement of women has allowed the Republic of Belarus to make significant progress in resolving issues of equal rights and opportunities.
The fifth National Action Plan for Gender Equality in the Republic of Belarus for 2017-2020 approved by the Government is currently being implemented.
Issues of combating domestic violence are specifically highlighted in this National Action Plan, in particular:
- study of the possibility of accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention);
- inclusion of issues of prophylaxis and combating domestic violence in the training programs for law enforcement officers, lawyers, judges, prosecutors.
The second one directly concerns our Institute.
2. The uniqueness of our Institute allows us to gather representatives of various legal professions on one platform: judges, prosecutors, investigators, lawyers.
This feature is a factor contributing to the consideration of certain problems from the position of particular legal professionals.
With this in mind, two trainings on the issues of ensuring equal access of women to justice were organized and held jointly with the Gender Equality Unit of the Council of Europe.
In September 12, 2017 the training for prosecutors on ensuring equal access of women to justice through the practice of prosecutors was held.
And in September 13, 2017 the training for judges on ensuring equal access of women to justice through the judicial practice was held.
These trainings were devoted to developing specific methodological approaches to the role of judges and prosecutors, which they should play in ensuring equal access of women to justice, in counteracting violence against women and domestic violence.
Positive feedback and suggestions from participants which represented different regions of the Republic of Belarus allowed to make the following important conclusions.
Specificity of the audience was that before this participants of the trainings faced issues of gender equality and violence against women and domestic violence as a rule through the application of national legislation.
In this connection, presentations of experts which contained a review of international standards in this field as well as analysis of practical issues in the light of opinions of the European Court of Human Rights were highly useful.
However, it is obvious that the evaluation of the effectiveness of international rules is not based on what know about them, but on how they are used.
For judges, prosecutors, lawyers, investigators the importance is not the amount of information received about international standards.
It is important that the information obtained becomes the basis of the decisions making.
The goal of any training should not be simply to familiarize participants with existing international standards, but how a particular judge, prosecutor, lawyer, investigator should apply them.
Therefore participation in the trainings of national experts allowed to introduce a national dimension in the process of applying international standards and to approximate the issues under consideration directly to practical activities.
We believe that in the future the practice of participating in trainings of both Council of Europe experts and national experts should be continued.
Council of Europe experts: comprehension of international standards and their implementation.
National experts: competent consideration of the national context, which affects the effectiveness of the implementation of international standards at the national level.
The discussion during the trainings and the proposals of participants prompted us to consider the issue of organizing trainings in a new format: for a mixed audience (judges and prosecutors, prosecutors and lawyers, etc.).
Moreover, in dealing with domestic violence, interaction with law professionals, law enforcement professionals and other professionals is also important.
Accordingly, it is possible to develop training tools not only for representatives of legal professions, but also for law enforcement professionals, social service workers, doctors, for those organizations that are responsible for raising awareness of gender equality and fighting violence against women among the general public.
Representatives of training institutions from Eastern Partnership countries attend here. And as we see, the problem of combating domestic violence is important for all countries. Why not to organize trainings in a teleconference (online) format? Direct communication of legal professionals would facilitate not only the exchange of experience, but also the convergence of national legal and judicial systems.
The trainings provided was the basis for testing the approaches outlined in the Training Manual for Judges and Prosecutors on Ensuring Women’s Access to Justice also developed under CE and EU regional project “Improving women's access to justice in the six Eastern Partnership countries”. Subject to this Manual and legal requirements of the Republic of Belarus our Institute has developed Training Programs for judges and prosecutors to counter domestic violence. These programs are an integral part of the training system implemented by the Institute.
3. About training methodology.
Today it is obvious to everyone that the training of the 21st century is different from the training of the past century.
In the conditions of penetration into all spheres of life of information technologies, the meaning and purpose of training is not the transfer of information, but the training of a thinking specialist who is able to model his knowledge himself. Therefore, the HELP methodology including e-learning methodology is important. The adaptation of the Training Manual for Judges and Prosecutors on Ensuring Women’s Access to Justice into the e-learning HELP course on Women’s Access to Justice will allow introducing an important practical component to the e-learning course.
Approaching this course to the national legal order requires its translation, adaptation and testing.
This is what further efforts could be directed to including in the framework HELP program. National experts and Focal points HELP could be participate in the translation, adaptation and testing such course.
4. In the system of training, in which information technologies are actively used, the role of the trainer changes radically. The task of the trainer is to create conditions for self-realization of the trainee.
In this regard, the organization of trainings for trainers is important for the development of personal qualities of trainers, the development of their abilities to individualize the learning process.
5. Information resources in national languages are important for the training.
Translated materials (conventions, cases of European court of Human Rights etc.) can be used easy for self-study.