A government bill to criminalise harassment and stalking is to be sent to the cabinet soon for approval and from there to the House to vote, the justice ministry announced on Tuesday.
The bill was prepared by the ministry in collaboration with the legal services as part of the objectives and programmes included in the Strategic Action Plan for Equality between Men and Women 2014-2017 and harmonisation with the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).
According to the announcement, the bill aims at regulating the protection of persons from harassment, stalking and other related matters.
“The bill is intended to criminalise the offences of harassment and stalking, with diversification in penalties, depending on the severity of the harassment and its effects on the victim” the announcement said. It also provides the court with the right to issue decrees to protect the victim or other persons around him or her.
The bill also defines the circumstances, which could be counted as an aggravating factor when determining the sentence, the announcement said.
In the cases of civil remedies, the bill also provides for the victim’s right to compensation and restoration following a final conviction.
The bill, the announcement said, received the necessary legal vetting and is expected to be promoted to the next meeting of the cabinet for approval and then to the House of Representatives to vote.
During the drafting period, there was a broad consultation involving the commissioners of human rights and gender equality, the Cyprus Bar Association and the organisations of the National Mechanism for Women’s Rights.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said in April that one in five women in Cyprus has been a victim of physical and/or sexual violence and that the government has put the issue of combating violence against women among its high priorities.