Russia: Bill to Decriminalize Domestic Violence

(Moscow) – A draft law pending in Russia’s parliament would seriously weaken protections against domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said today. Parliament should reject the law as dangerous and incompatible with Russia’s international human rights obligations.

“Passage of this law would be a huge step backward for Russia, where victims of domestic violence already face enormous obstacles to getting help or justice,” said Yulia Gorbunova, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The domestic violence bill would reduce penalties for abusers and put victims’ lives at even greater risk.”

The amendments would decriminalize a first offense of family violence that does not cause serious harm requiring hospital treatment. Only violence that leads to serious injuries like broken bones or a concussion would remain criminalized. The law would apply to violence against any family member, including women and children. Abusers, if found guilty, would face a minimal fine, up to 15 days’ administrative arrest, or compulsory community service.

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