Public Defender's Mandate Strengthened relating to Cases of Discrimination
The Public Defender welcomes the strengthening of he Public Defender’s mandate relating to the cases of discrimination as a result of adoption of the relevant law on May 3 and assesses the new amendments as an important step forward.
The earlier legislative framework could not provide the Public Defender with the necessary leverage to study the cases of discrimination in the private sector. Private individuals were not obliged to provide the Public Defender with necessary information for studying a case, to consider the Public Defender’s recommendations or to notify the Public Defender’s Office of the results.
From November 2014 to 31 August 2018, the Public Defender issued a total of 24 recommendations for private individuals, but was not responded at all in 16 cases. According to the new amendments, private individuals will be obliged to provide information to the Public Defender, as well as to consider the Public Defender’s recommendations and provide information about the results. Non-fulfillment of these obligations will be regarded as a administrative offense and will be punished with a fine. At the same time, the Public Defender will have the opportunity to sue private individuals if they do not implement her recommendation. Earlier, the Public Defender could use such a possibility only in relation to the public sector.
The Public Defender has been demanding adoption of the above amendments since 2015. In the same year, a legislative package was submitted, discussion of which was soon terminated and no result could be achieved. It is important that the most important principles of these draft laws have already been reflected in the law adopted by the Parliament on May 3.
The Public Defender also welcomes the strengthening of enforcement mechanisms relating to the cases of sexual harassment. Determination of sexual harassment as an administrative offense and introduction of fines is a step forward for the protection of the rights of women, girls and each member of the society. At the same time, it is important to conduct a wide social campaign and disseminate information about the mentioned issue to create the prevention effect. And if an offense cannot be prevented - everyone should be properly informed about their rights and no violator should remain unpunished.
Hopefully, the new law and its enforcement will make public spaces safer for women, girls and all other people (for example, 45% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the subway, according to the 2014 survey of Women's Information Center).
The Public Defender emphasizes the contribution of the women to the adoption of the above-mentioned law, who spoke up against sexual harassment, used the limited legal means available to them and created the first legal cases of sexual harassment.
The Public Defender will use the new legislative opportunities as much as possible to establish equality in the country.