A technical mission comprised of members from the National Council of Prosecution Services (CNMP) Gustavo Rocha, Valter Shuenquener and Luciano Maia attended an exercise at the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) in Lisbon 26 and 28 September. It was a hands-on exercise to test a risk assessment form for the prevention of domestic violence against women. This was the last part of the Brazilian mission to Europe, which also visited women's protection and support institutions in Vienna, Austria.
The meetings were held under the European Union-Brazil Sector Dialogues Facility and as a follow-up on the Joint Declaration signed in August 2017. Their goal was to strengthen cross-institutional cooperation and the exchange of experiences, with a focus on the development of national risk assessment form in Brazil. The mission is part of the cooperation efforts between the CNMP, the European Union, UN Women and the Special Secretariat of Policies for Women (SPM) and is intended to identify potential actions by the Brazilian Prosecution Service to fight domestic violence.
The purpose of the exercises in the APAV was precisely to enhance and launch tests on the risk assessment form. Based on data from the National Registry of Domestic Violence (CNVD), established through CNMP Resolution 135/2016, and scientific papers, the White Paper will help assess the severity of the risk of a victim of domestic violence being assaulted again in the course of investigations or even being the victim of femicide as the result of a formal complaint.
The APAV provides confidential, customised, qualified, and humanised support to victims of crime free of charge. The association has a branch that deals specifically with the issue of domestic violence by taking actions to protect victims of this type of crime. “Risk management should be conducted for the benefit of victims. Our focus is on protection of the victim,” said APAV member Rosa Saavedra.
According to Valter Shuenquener, “APAV's expertise in assisting victims of domestic violence will inform a pilot test of the risk assessment form to be implemented in Brazil.”
CNMP member Gustavo Rocha, who is also the current Minister of Human Rights (MDH) and joined the mission in Portugal, stressed that “APAV's experience in protecting victims of domestic violence will be key for the development strategy of the risk form for Brazil.”
"Tackling domestic violence against women is a priority and crucial part of public policies on human rights in Brazil. Given this background, development of a scientific basis to address the matter is a fundamental step to ensure victim protection is effective. Hence the exchange of information and good practices between Brazil and European countries is extremely useful and will be instrumental in the design and implementation of a national risk form in Brazil to prevent domestic violence against women. This initiative relies on full support of the MDH“, said Rocha.
During the initial stage of the mission on 17 September, Valter Shuenquener, chair of the Commission for the Defence of Fundamental Rights (CDDF/CNMP) and Maurício Andreiuolo, a supporting member of the commission, attended working meetings in Vienna with strategic anti-domestic violence agencies. They met with ministerial adviser Walter Ruscher, head of Human Rights Affairs with the Federal Ministry of the Interior (Bundesministerium für Inneres), and with Group inspector Yvonne Truppe , also from this ministry.
Ruscher believes that “cooperation between the two countries on gender-based violence is vital for the development of an effective strategy." Yvonne expressed her wishes for the project to be successful and recalled that "due to it is a Universal issue, models based on international exchanges are more likely to develop solutions that can solve the problem."
“This relationship with Austrian institutions is extremely important for the strategy on independent and critical monitoring of the applicable legislation in Brazil, given the country's position as a reference internationally," said Shuenquener, who also attended working meetings with the head of the Centre for Intervention on Domestic Violence, Rosa Logar, and with Marie-Theres Prantner, representative of Division III of the Women and Equality Department.
Rosa explained that "the purpose of the Intervention Centre is to ensure that women receive the best possible protection with a view to reducing the rates of femicide in the country, for instance."
"The exchange of knowledge is critical to enhance the fight against domestic violence," said Marie-Theres, "so by exchanging models and experiences in the future we will be able to succeed in the prevention of gender-based violence."
The mission also had the opportunity to meet the Emergency Helpline for Women, a 24/7 hotline for women in the city of Vienna, which serves as a point of contact for women and girls aged 14 or over who have been victims of sexual, physical or psychological violence. Its core services include prompt emergency assistance and intervention in case of crisis, as well as counselling and support in case of violent experiences.
Helpline representative Laura Wimmer stressed that "it is imperative that the protection of victims of domestic violence covers women fully, including support and shelter, so that they are not forced to go back early to the household where they were victims of violence. And the work conducted by the CNMP’s Commission for the Defence of Fundamental Rights for the development of a national risk form for Brazil could be ground-breaking in terms of preventing domestic violence against women."
On 19 September, the mission visited the Austrian Judges Association, with Doris Täubel-Weinreich, chair of the group of experts on family and non-family law. The judge said that "both countries have a lot to learn on the fight against gender-based violence against women with initiatives such as the one developed by the CNMP.”
Austria is often mentioned as a European model of excellence in the combat of domestic violence against women, whether for the quality of its legislation or the development of awareness campaigns, as well as for risk assessments when granting protective measures to victims of domestic violence. The country was directly involved in and supported in Brazil the preparation of the National Guidelines for the implementation of the Latin American Protocol for the investigation of violent killings of women from the perspective of gender, a document drafted under the SPM, the National Public Security Secretariat and UN Women.
*Based on data from CNMP’s press office
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