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Armenia Strengthens Domestic Violence Law

New Amendments Address Gaps in Protection, Accountability Measures

Taguhi shows scars on her neck and shoulder. In 2016, her former husband attacked her and her mother with an axe, killing her mother.  © 2016 Nazik Armenakyan (

Armenia’s parliament adopted amendments strengthening the country’s domestic violence law. The legislation was adopted last week as postwar Armenia both struggles to secure its border with neighboring Azerbaijan and deepen its relations with the European Union.

Armenia’s 2017 domestic violence law was an important first step, but its accountability provisions were inadequate and protective measures were deeply flawed. The law’s title, which included “restoring family harmony,” set the tone.

The amendments remove the reference to “family harmony” and add additional acts of physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence that can be considered domestic violence. These include, among others, forced medical and psychiatric interventions, hindering access to medical care, virginity testing, prohibiting or hindering contacts with relatives and friends, and various forms of exercising control over a partner. The amendments also criminalize stalking as a standalone crime.

Armenia’s criminal code doesn’t list domestic violence as a standalone offence, but it does specify that if the perpetrators of certain crimes are close relatives, this can be an aggravating factor. The amendments provide that partners and former partners (who are not deemed relatives) are now also included as perpetrators who can be charged with this aggravating factor. The amendments also specify that causing a child to witness domestic violence is tantamount to an act of violence.

The amendments set a minimum time period for urgent intervention measures – which are a step short of court-issued protective orders – and extend the time period for protective orders. Both measures allow police to force an abuser from the home or restrict them from communicating with a victim.

Finally, the amendments specify that survivors have priority access to free healthcare services to address conditions caused by domestic violence and that shelters must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Authorities noted a doubling in the number of criminal investigations into domestic violence: 1,848 investigations in 2023 compared with 960 in 2022. They partially attributed this to a new methodology of compiling statistics and an increased reporting rate, rather than an increase in violence.

Much needs to be done in Armenia to protect women and girls from domestic violence. For example, in some cases, courts invalidate police urgent intervention orders. And Armenia has yet to ratify the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention. Meanwhile, the Armenian government should continue promoting zero tolerance on domestic violence and ensure accountability of perpetrators.

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