site.btaUPDATED Ombudsman on Blank Spot in Criminal Code, Wants Acts Crushing Dignity Incriminated
There is a blank spot in the Criminal Code, one of the issues relating to the definition of physical, mental and economic violence, which are provided for in the Code, but left entirely to case law, Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva said on bTV's Tuesday morning show. More specifically, this refers to cases of intentional infliction of physical or mental pain or suffering, she added.
For years Bulgaria has either been sentenced, or the cases - for example from [the European Court of Human Rights] in Strasbourg - have proven repeatedly that we have a problem with the Criminal Code, because the cases of aggravated assault, which does not kill, but crushes human dignity are many and they cannot be punished, because in the Criminal Code there is no such text criminalizing torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment, said Kovacheva.
The Ombudsman intends to table a proposal for precisely such amendments to the Criminal Code after the summer recess of Parliament, focused on such acts that otherwise go unpunished.
Commenting on the recent case violence against an 18-year-old girl in Stara Zagora (Southern Bulgaria), Kovacheva said the way the act itself was qualified was important, for that is practically the launch of criminal proceedings. She considers that the law is quite ambiguous on the way the act can be qualified.
According to her, what needs to change immediately is the attitude of the institutions towards the victim of domestic violence. The lack of sensitivity, understanding, unfortunately on the part of the police, the prosecutor's office and the court, is proving fatal, she said. Seeking three consecutive alerts, in the prescribed systematic manner in the Criminal Code, practically prevents the abuser from being sentenced more severely because the court seeks three alerts from the victim. And victims of violence don't talk, Kovacheva said.
She said there should be mandatory therapy for the abuser, training for police officers to approach with understanding.
"I believe it is necessary in this situation to raise the issue of violence during an intimate relationship again, and not to allow populist hysteria to obscure the clear legislative objectives this time. If there were such a regulation, the victim could seek protection, including a restraining order, which the currently adopted law does not provide," Justice Minister Atanas Slavov told journalists later in the day.
The problem of violence during an intimate relationship between two persons that is not cohabitation was raised In the Protection from Domestic Violence Bill, which was drafted at the Ministry of Justice. Unfortunately, in two particular successive parliaments, this issue was taken out of the Bill and was not passed, he said.