Ministry of Justice makes coordination mechanism with local institutions for rapid response to domestic violence

30-05-2022 14:54

Verbal, psychological and economic abuse for years on a 60-year-old woman by the man from whom she has ten children.

Such a case has been reported by lawyers providing free legal aid in Varna district under a project of the National Legal Aid Bureau, funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism (NFM).

The report was submitted by the mayor of a small settlement in Varna region.

The family lives extremely poor. Arguments about bills and food are a daily occurrence. The man does not work, smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. After another glass of alcohol, the beatings begin, says the injured woman.

After consulting a lawyer, the woman does not admit that domestic violence is being perpetrated on her, but she wants her life to improve and her children not to suffer.

Lawyer Filkova prepares the necessary documents for granting benefits and finding a job for the woman. Actions have been taken, together with the mayor of the settlement, to separate her from the man who is harassing her.

Lawyer Filkova is one of the mobile lawyers providing free legal consultations to people from vulnerable groups in Varna region. Together with a Roma mediator, they go around the remote settlements and Roma neighborhoods in the district. Their aim is to provide easier access to justice for disadvantaged citizens, focusing on victims of domestic and gender-based violence, children at risk and members of the Roma community.

“In the last one year in Varna 2,189 people received free legal consultations, 108 of the consultations were related to cases of domestic violence and violence against the person”, said the head of the Justice Programme of the NFM Desislava Gaidarova.

In connection with the work on the project, a round table was held in Varna with representatives of the district court, the district prosecutor’s office, the Social Welfare Directorate, the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Interior.

Participants agreed that the National Legal Aid Bureau should be informed whenever a victim of domestic violence reports, no matter where it is filed, so that the Bureau can assign a lawyer to go to the scene and counsel the victim. “This coordination mechanism will provide the basis for a National Coordination Mechanism in the future, which is foreseen in the legislative changes being prepared by the Ministry of Justice,” said Natalia Ilieva, chairperson of the National Legal Aid Bureau. 

Deputy Minister of Justice Borislav Ganchev, who was also present at the meeting, said that the draft law on protection from domestic violence will soon be published for discussion.

It provides for the extension of the circle of victims of domestic violence who can seek protection, the immediate effect of the protection order, the establishment of a national information system for cases of domestic violence and a national register, as well as a set of measures against perpetrators.