UN criticizes Austria's failure to protect women's rights

Austria needs to improve the protection of women in cases of domestic violence, the United Nations women's rights committee said on Monday.

UN criticizes Austria's failure to protect women's rights
Austria needs to improve the protection of women in cases of domestic violence, the United Nations women's rights committee said on Monday.

A study by the committee, triggered by two murders in the years 2002 and 2003, concluded that in both cases police and justice authorities neglected their duties.

A statement released by two non-governmental organizations focusing on domestic violence, who had brought the cases to the UN's attention, said that the authorities displayed a lack of care in protecting victims.

In both cases, a lengthy history of violence and threats preceded the murders, but cases had been dropped and reports about murder threats ignored by the police.

Austria neglected its responsibilities to protect the victims as authorities ignored "extremely dangerous circumstances" and failed to arrest the perpetrators.

The UN committee recommended improvements in implementing laws protecting against domestic violence and more speedy prosecution of cases of domestic violence.

Improved coordination between police and justice authorities was regarded necessary, as was training increasing awareness regarding domestic violence.

Reacting to the criticism, Austria's Justice Minister Maria Berger promised improvements despite having one of the most progressive laws against domestic violence, the Austrian Press Agency said.

The Social Democrat minister said current legislation allowing violent spouses to be expelled from their home for up to three months would be extended to six months.

Also, introducing the concept of "long-lasting violence" was under consideration, thereby allowing prosecution of domestic violence occurring over a longer period of time.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women overviews the adherence to the UN convention on women's rights and the fight against discrimination.

Organizations and individuals can bring complaints before the committee.

DPA
Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2007, 18:11
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