Guidelines on Gender Sensitive Approach for Adjudicating Gender-Based Violence Cases

Violence against women, including domestic violence, is one of the most serious forms of gender-based violations of human rights in Europe that is still veiled in silence.

The Open Regional Funds for South-East Europe Legal Reform Project, in cooperation with the Council of Europe and HELP Program developed and disseminated Guidelines on Gender Sensitive Approach for Adjudicating Gender-Based Violence Cases to Western Balkans Judicial Training Institutions (WB JTIs) and judges handling gender-based violence cases.

The Guidelines are built around three Council of Europe (CoE) documents: the European Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023.

The Guidelines also make references to the documents developed by the United Nations, in particular to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Committee (CEDAW Committee) and the updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice;

Gender Guidelines Snapshot:

- Provide references to key documents dealing with gender-based violence; 

- Provide explanation to guide judges in setting standards or determining a course of action when it comes to CoE standards; 

- Allow judges a closer insight into the case-law of EctHR when it comes to gender-based violence cases;

- Help broaden knowledge and gender-sensitize judges who adjudicate gender-based violence cases;

- Help judges to increase their general awareness of the most pressing women’s rights issues in order to deliver justice more effectively. In order to ensure that women have equal access to justice;

- Assist judges in adopting a gender-sensitive approach in their work, and ensure that they interpret the law in line with substantive notions of equality and international human rights;

Areas Covered:

Violence against women - key definitions, forms of violence against women, domestic violence, impact on the victims, consequences for the society/costs;

Access to justice - barriers to justice; underlying principles; victims rights; multiple discrimination; victim blaming; false perceptions (stereotyping); victim-centred approach;

Criminal justice response to the violence against women: pre-trial phase - emotional impact on victim, effective investigation standards, interview process, witnesses, secondary victimisation, charging decisions, pre-trial protective measures, relevant case law;

Criminal justice response to the violence against women: trial phase - presentation of the charges and the duty of the prosecutor; judicial stereotyping, measures to be taken during the trail and victim-centred approach, avoiding secondary victimisation, good practices in the court room, evidence issue, balancing of the rights, sentencing: aggravating and mitigating circumstance, relevant case law;

The Gender Guideline is translated to languages spoken in the region and posted on the official websites of Judicial Training Institutions in the Western Balkans.  

Albania: http://www.magjistratura.edu.al/index.php

Bosnia and Herzegovina: http://www.fbih.cest.gov.ba/  http://www.rs.cest.gov.ba/

Kosovo: https://ad.rks-gov.net/en/home

Montenegro: https://cosdt.me/

North Macedonia: https://jpacademy.gov.mk/en/

Serbia: https://www.pars.rs/en/