MPs on Wednesday discussed a new law proposal that will introduce femicide as a discrete offence without requiring further proof of aggravating factors.
The new proposal comes after the legal service rejected the initial proposed bill providing for the establishment of femicide as a distinct offence. According to the legal service, that would make it harder to prove.
House President Annita Demetriou, who presented the bill to amend the Prevention and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and related issues 2022 Law, said the aim was to “strengthen the law and not create problems in proving the offence”.
She added that she understands the concerns raised before the legal affairs committee.
Chairwoman of the committee and Disy MP Fotini Tsiridou said the initial proposal “would have meant introducing an additional element for the prosecution to prove” and was rejected by the Attorney General’s office.
Tsiridou explained that the new amendment by Demetriou introduces femicide as a discrete offence, but no additional proof is required.
The prosecution will check whether there are aggravating factors and then proceed to draft the indictment, she said.
The chairwoman also referred to the amendment proposal by Edek MP Kostis Efstathiou, who suggested aggravating factors should be of concern when there is a relationship of dependency or they belong to a vulnerable group, so that element can be an aggravating factor, based on the Istanbul Convention.
Siding with the legal concerns of the initial proposal, Akel MP Andreas Pasiourtides said some defendants may seek to be tried as misogynists which would be harder to prove so that they avoid life imprisonment. A criminal lawyer may also attempt to prove that a crime is femicide and not premeditated murder, he said.
A representative of the Legal Service expressed readiness to accept the proposed law, which specifically concerns women. The inclusion of other vulnerable groups was going beyond the philosophy of the law, she suggested.
Cyprus saw more than 40 murders of women in the last decade, according to previous statements by Justice Minister Stephie Dracou.
Between 2010 and 2016, there were 28 cases of femicide, with 75 per cent being the result of domestic violence while another 13 femicides, including two underage girls, were added to the death tally in 2019 and 2020. The majority of the perpetrators were male Cypriots.