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The EP calls for the non-application of the presumption of innocence to men and the implementation of gender postulates

Published: 15.10.2021

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· At the request of the FEMM Committee (Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality), the European Parliament has focused on the impact of 'intimate partner' violence on women and children and on custody rights.

· During the ongoing plenary session, the EP debated and adopted a draft resolution on the issue.

· This resolution is another document in which the EP disregards the limitations of competences imposed on the EU by the Treaties and expresses itself freely in areas reserved for the Member States, for example, family law, criminal law, childcare, health policy, protection of life.

· The resolution calls, for example, for judgements to be made on the basis of grounds alone, without proof of guilt, which contradicts the fundamental principles of the presumption of innocence and non-discrimination.

· The resolution also calls on member states to implement the ideological theory of gender and once again puts pressure on the European Commission to take steps to include 'gender-based violence' in the catalogue of the so-called European crimes.

 

'This document, although it is an act that is in no way binding, has become the official position of the EP. Therefore, it can be assumed that the direction indicated by its wording will also be continued in other EU activities, including those that have a real impact on the shape of the law and political decisions. In this resolution, we find for example a very worrying call for the abolition of the principle of the presumption of innocence against men accused of violence, even before any evidence has been shown, and for the right of custody of their own children to be revoked. The entire resolution appears as a document aimed at introducing systemic discrimination against men through the instrumental use of the problem of violence. Instead, violence should be prevented, and the victims should be helped, irrespective of gender or any other features. Everyone has the right to a fair trial,' commented Anna Kubacka, an analyst at the Centre for International Law.

 

The resolution condemns 'in the strongest terms' gender-based violence, domestic violence and violence against women (point 1 of the resolution). The content of the document shows that it is no coincidence that the EP omits the issue of violence against men. The authors of the resolution postulate the de facto exclusion of the principle of the presumption of innocence in a situation where the perpetrators of domestic violence are men. Point 32 of the document stresses that 'the EP urges that decisions on shared custody be postponed until the issue of partner violence has been properly investigated and a risk assessment has been carried out'. This opens the door to many abuses, and in fact the mere accusation of violence can lead to a man being deprived of custody by a court designed to 'avoid decisions against the mother' (cf. letter L of the resolution).

 

In addition, in letter Q of the resolution, the EP points to the allegedly harmful practice of the court's ruling, even when they see no objection to it, on joint custody or parental responsibility, despite the fact that one parent (the woman) has been a victim of violence by the other parent (the man). However, the child's right of contact with the father (as well as the father's right of contact with the child) in a situation in which such contact does not constitute a threat to the child's welfare - which is assessed by the court in each case - is very important and cannot be automatically excluded solely on the basis of a hypothetical further threat of violence against the woman.

 

The authors of the resolution also demand that victims of violence have access to 'sexual and reproductive health services'. The authors of the document used the English abbreviation SRHR for 'sexual and reproductive health and rights'. The addition of the word 'rights' to the international term 'sexual and reproductive health' (SRH) fundamentally changes the meaning of the wording used. Among the main demands hidden behind the term SRHR is the demand for abortion on demand.

 

The resolution also calls on countries such as Bulgaria to ratify the Istanbul Gender Convention (letter Z and point 5 of the resolution), despite the fact that the Bulgarian Constitutional Court has explicitly ruled that the Convention is incompatible with the Bulgarian Constitution.  Parliament also condemns Poland for considering withdrawing from the Convention. At the same time, it ignores the substantive arguments raised by many countries in connection with the ideological content of the act, its outdated solutions and, above all, the lack of proper identification of the sources of violence, which is the reason for the ineffectiveness of the solutions it contains. It is important to note that, according to research carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency and the OECD, the rate of violence against women in Poland is one of the lowest in Europe, which is a result of the much broader and more effective anti-violence solutions applied in our country than those proposed in the Istanbul Convention.

 

The resolution also calls on Member States to implement ideological gender theory and once again puts pressure on the European Commission to take steps towards including 'gender-based violence' in the catalogue of the so-called European crimes (Article 83(1) of the TfEU). The Ordo Iuris Institute stated the dangers of such an amendment. This time, however, the EP not only demands that undefined 'gender-based violence' be recognised as a European crime, but also points out that the Istanbul Convention is to be a determinant of 'minimum standards' for the directive in this matter. This means that the EU wants to impose the application of its solutions on countries that opposed the ideological content of the Convention.

 

This document is yet another example of the European Union's disregard for the provisions of the Treaty, in which the Member States have clearly defined which competences they reserve exclusively for themselves. Both family law, including the issue of childcare, substantive criminal law and health policy are a prerogative of the Member States. The European Parliament, by expressing its position in these areas, and even by formulating demands for the implementation of specific solutions related to them, is consciously exceeding its competences, and in the case of Bulgaria is even calling for a breach of the Basic Law.

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