Under Fire, Greek MP’s Take Up Child Custody, Divorce Bill

ATHENS – With dissension within its ranks, Greece's ruling New Democracy is trying to push through Parliament a bill to reform family law and divorce legislation that critics said would let violent offenders share child custody. 

Ahead of the vote, Amnesty International has joined women’s groups and civil society organizations to call on Greek authorities to reject the bill which has also seen opposition within the government.

The bill has undergone modifications and more were expected May 19 after Justice Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras faced pressure, even from within the ruling party which has been split over the contentious measure, said Kathimerini.

He has already amended it several times after a meeting with several parliamentary committees and he and government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said it could he again, the paper reported.

“We are a democratic party. We can talk. We can also hear a different point of view,” Tsiaras said, but said he will not make wholesale changes that he said would “deconstruct” the proposed bill. 

Esther Major, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser, said: ““The proposed provision would breach Greece’s obligation under the Istanbul Convention, which requires State Parties to take measures to ensure that custody and visitation rights do not jeopardize the rights and safety of domestic violence survivors as well as child witnesses and victims”.

Amnesty said the legislation will put victims of domestic violence in greater danger, including migrant and refugee women and urged the government to pull it back before a vote.

“Since judicial proceedings can last up to 5 years, the new law risks giving perpetrators of violence and abuse access to their victims, and for an extended period of time,” the group said in its statement.


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