19.05.2020: Overview of urgent measures and steps for protection of women and children victims of domestic violence undertaken by the competent institutions

On March 18th, 2020, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia declared a state of emergency on the entire territory of the state due to the situation with COVID-19 and prevention of the spread of the coronavirus. After the declaration of the state of emergency, as of April 9, 2020, 15 Government sessions were held, where new decisions and measures for dealing with the pandemic from COVID-19 in the Republic of North Macedonia were made every day. The adopted measures referred to several aspects, and aimed at mitigating the health, social and economic crisis which, although a reality for the citizens of RNM, may be deepened as a consequence of the state of emergency.

However, a particularly vulnerable category that was completely left out of the measures and the recommendations were the victims of domestic violence, i.e. women and children who are under increased risk of domestic violence. Apart from the notification of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy addressed to the victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence, which listed numbers for reporting violence, no urgent measures were imposed or proposed for this particularly vulnerable category of citizens.

In order to provide protection to women and children of domestic violence in this follow-up period of the state of emergency, the National Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence prepared and on 13.04.2020 sent to the Government of RNM a Request for issuing urgent measures for protection of women and children of domestic violence during a state of emergency. The document contained an explanation of the current situation, the risk factors for increasing domestic violence, the risk factors for reporting the violence, and a list of proposed urgent measures for protection of women and children victims of domestic violence.

Due to the emergency of the situation, on 09.04.2020 the first Request for amending the decision for prohibition of movement of citizens over the entire territory of the country which stipulated adoption of two urgent measures, namely: exceptions from sanctioning women victims and their children leaving the home because of a threat and a direct risk of violence, and when domestic violence is reported during curfew, for the perpetrator to be removed from the home and a subject to appropriate sanctions (detention, issuance of temporary protective measures, etc.) in order to protect the victim from future violence in her home was sent.

On 14.04.2020, the National Network received a response from the Government of RNM saying that the sent request had been referred for further review and action to the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice for the purpose of submitting an appropriate proposal with specific measures to be reviewed at the following meeting of the Main Crisis Coordination Headquarters scheduled for 15.04.2020.

Apart from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the National Network was contacted by no other ministry or institution in relation to the submitted requests and the receiver notification from the Main Crisis Coordination Headquarters.

This document “Overview of urgent measures and steps for protection of women and children victims of domestic violence undertaken by the Government and the competent institutions” contains the proposed urgent measures and the steps undertaken by the competent institutions for the period 14.04.2020-15.05.2020, as well as the follow-up steps that need to be undertaken.

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