The problem of domestic violence is an ongoing issue, as shown, for example, by Ministry of Justice data on persons convicted of violence or the number of ‘Blue Card’ procedures initiated. These statistics, however, do not show the real scale of the phenomenon, which has further intensified into a pandemic. Unfortunately, the remedial measures that have been taken for years are not producing the expected results, among other things due to low awareness of the specifics of gender violence, also within the justice system itself, and the lack of effective solutions guaranteeing the protection of persons experiencing domestic violence.
The project involved citizen monitoring of 254 court hearings using the court watch method and a survey of 315 criminal case files. A nationwide online survey on social attitudes towards perpetrators of violence and in-depth interviews with coordinators and trainers of correctional-education programmes were also conducted. On the basis of the research and observation data, a report was produced showing comprehensively how the justice system deals with the problem of domestic violence and what the shortcomings of the system are.
As a result of the project, gaps in official statistical data (e.g. on the relationship between domestic violence perpetrators and victims) were identified and filled, a diagnosis of the functioning of the justice system in relation to the problem of domestic violence was prepared and recommendations were developed. The report identifies, inter alia, such problems as frequent cancellation of hearings, inadequate treatment of participants in hearings, secondary victimisation of victims, fictitious prosecution of perpetrators ex officio, postponement of testimony, lack of uniform practice of preventive measures, alcoholism of perpetrators ignored by courts, omission of minors as victims of violence. Numerous barriers to effective impact on perpetrators of violence were also diagnosed.
The results of the survey were publicised and disseminated so that they serve to sensitise the institutions of the judiciary to the problem of domestic violence and to change ineffective and harmful court practices, to raise the legal culture in this area and to change public awareness. In the near future, they will serve advocacy efforts aimed at amending the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and issuing regulations and relevant guidelines to guarantee real protection for victims of violence.