Fitzgerald supports common European sentencing rules for perpetrators of violence against women
Frances Fitzgerald supports common European sentencing rules for perpetrators of violence against women
Press Statement from Frances Fitzgerald MEP
Monday 3rd October 2022
Dublin MEP Frances Fitzgerald has called for standardised sentencing guidelines in cases involving violence against women to apply to all countries in the European Union. MEP Fitzgerald was speaking in advance of negotiations on a new Violence Against Women Directive - the EU’s first comprehensive law in this area. MEP Fitzgerald will lead the negotiations on the content of the draft law for the European Parliament.
MEP Fitzgerald’s comments also follow the revelations of “substantial shortcoming” in relation to the handling of 999 calls to the gardaí and a commitment by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to ensure greater training for staff.
Frances Fitzgerald MEP said, “Violence against women is a scourge in our society and one that must be fully recognised as such in every member state. It causes trauma, anguish, and can affect the lives of its victims for many years afterwards. It is important that every member state treat these offences with the same level of seriousness. This is why sentencing in each member state should work off the same guidance. Violence against women is no less repulsive depending on what country it takes place in. This needs to addressed in the upcoming directive on violence against women.
“Currently there is significantly divergent positions in relation to minimum sentencing. This means that the rights of victims are not the same in every state. Not all EU countries allow for the use of restraining orders. Furthermore, while rape is criminalised across the bloc, 17 countries still require the use of force or threats for the offence to be punished.
“I very much welcome the commitment by the European institutions to produce a new law in the area of violence against women and I am delighted to have been selected as the rapporteur or chief negotiator for the European Parliament. As this directive will fall under the scope of Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, it will ensure that the offences it lays out will be a crime everywhere in the European Union, and punishable to the same standards. There should be no havens of impunity for offenders of violence against women in the European Union.
“I am heartened to see the European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, taking this issue so seriously and putting forward such a comprehensive proposal to combat this shadow pandemic that is so pervasive in our societies.
“The Directive comprises five key elements:
1. Criminalisation of rape, female genital mutilation, and cyber violence
2. Safe reporting and risk assessment procedures
3. Respect for victims privacy in judicial proceedings and right to compensation
4. Support for victims through helplines and rape crisis centres
5. Better coordination and cooperation
“I will be working closely with all my colleagues to ensure that we produce a directive that is robust, overarching, effective, and ambitious. By adopting common sentencing standards, we will demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the safety and freedom of women in Ireland and across Europe.”