Article 10 – Co-ordinating body
70. Paragraph 1 entails the obligation to entrust one or more official government bodies with four specific tasks: co-ordinating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the policies and measures which the respective Party to the Convention has devised to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. This can be done by setting up new official bodies or mandating official bodies already in existence with these tasks. The term “official body” is to be understood as any entity or institution within government. It may be a body set up or already in existence either at national or regional level. Size, staffing and funding are to be decided by the Parties, as well as which entity it shall be answerable to and any reporting obligations it shall have. Regarding the tasks of implementation, monitoring and evaluation this body should be in existence on the respective level of a Party’s structure which is responsible for the carrying out of the measures. This means that in a federal government structure it may be necessary to have more than one body.
71. The four tasks which this body or bodies are mandated to undertake aim at ensuring that the various measures taken by the Party in implementation of this Convention are well co-ordinated and lead to a concerted effort of all agencies and all sectors of government. Moreover, they aim at ensuring the actual implementation of any new policies and measures. The monitoring task bestowed upon these bodies is limited to the monitoring of how and how effectively policies and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention are being implemented at the national and/or regional and local level. It does not extend to monitoring compliance with the Convention as a whole which is a task performed by the independent, international monitoring mechanism set up in Chapter IX of the Convention (see comments on Chapter IX). Lastly, the evaluation of policies and measures which these bodies are mandated to carry out comprises the scientific evaluation of a particular policy or measure in order to assess whether it meets the needs of victims and fulfils its purpose as well as to uncover unintended consequences. This will require robust administrative and population-based data, which Article 11 obliges Parties to the Convention to collect. For this reason, bodies created under this article are also assigned the task of co-ordinating the collection of the necessary data and to analyse and disseminate its results. Some member states have set up observatories on violence against women which already collect a vast variety of data. While these may serve as examples, the drafters decided to leave to the Parties the decision on how to ensure the co-ordination, analysis and dissemination of data by the bodies in question.
72. Paragraph 2 of this article authorises these bodies to receive information within the framework of this Convention which the respective Party has taken in compliance with Chapter VIII (see comments on Chapter VIII). It is important to note that, for data protection reasons, the authorisation is limited to receiving information of a general nature (see comments on Article 65). The obligation is therefore confined to ensuring that bodies created under this article are kept informed, in a general manner and without references to individual cases, of international co-operation activities, including mutual legal assistance in civil and criminal matters. The purpose is to allow them to fulfil its role.
73. The information and knowledge acquired through the exchange of experiences and practice is of great value in preventing and combating all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. Paragraph 3 therefore equips bodies created under this article with the ability to seek contact with and set up working relations with its counterparts created in other Parties to the Convention. This will allow for important cross-fertilisation that is mutually productive and will lead to further harmonisation of practice.
Article 11 – Data collection and research
74. Systematic and adequate data collection has long been recognised as an essential component of effective policy-making in the field of preventing and combating all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. Despite this recognition, examples of systematically collected administrative or population-based data in Council of Europe member states are rare. Additionally, available data are seldom comparable across countries nor over time, resulting in a limited understanding of the extent and the evolution of the problem. Preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence requires evidence-based policy-making. This implies effectively documenting the magnitude of violence by producing robust, comparative data in order to guide policy and to monitor the implementation of measures to address the problem. This chapter contains the obligation to address the importance of regularly collecting representative and comparable data to the devising and implementation of policies to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. It establishes the type of data that will need to be collected, analysed and prepared for dissemination by the co-ordinating body or bodies created under Article 10 and provided to the Group of independent experts (GREVIO) responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention (see Chapter IX). Additionally, it highlights the need to support research in the field of violence against women and domestic violence.
75. The nature of the obligation contained in paragraph 1 is twofold. First, in order to design and implement evidence-based policies and assess whether they meet the needs of those exposed to violence, lit.a requires Parties to collect disaggregated relevant statistical data at regular intervals on cases of all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. Accurate statistical information specifically designed to target victims and perpetrators of such violence is not only important in efforts to raise awareness among policy-makers and the public on the seriousness of the problem, but can also encourage reporting by victims or witnesses. Relevant statistical data may include administrative data collected from statistics compiled by health care services and social welfare services, law enforcement agencies and NGOs, as well as judicial data recorded by judicial authorities, including public prosecutors. Appropriately collected statistical administrative and judicial data can contribute to Parties’ national response to all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention by seeking information about the performance of government institutions as well as information on crimes that authorities are dealing with within the criminal procedure. Service-based administrative data includes for instance the systematic recording of data on how victims of such violence are using services and how government agencies as well as the public (and private) health sector, in return, are serving them in their plight to seek justice, medical care, counselling, housing or other support. Agency-based client data on service use is not only limited to assessing the effectiveness of policies in place, but can also provide a basis for estimating the administrative cost of such violence. Furthermore, judicial data can provide information on the sentences and characteristics of convicted persons, as well as on conviction rates.
76. Consequently, public authorities such as the judiciary, the police and social welfare services will need to set-up data systems in place that go beyond the internal recording of the needs of the agency. Again, in order to show if there has been an improvement or a decline in the effectiveness of prevention, protection and prosecution measures and policies, relevant statistical administrative and judicial data should be collected at regular intervals. The usefulness and relevance of such data depend above all on the quality of its recording. Although, the drafters felt it best to leave to the Parties the choice of data categories used, as a minimum requirement, recorded data on victim and perpetrator should be disaggregated by sex, age, type of violence as well as the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim, geographical location, as well as other factors deemed relevant by Parties such as disability. Recorded data should also contain information on conviction rates of perpetrators of all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention, including the number of protection orders issued. The Council of Europe study on “Administrative data collection on domestic violence in Council of Europe member states” (EG-VEW-DC(2008)Study) identifies these and other categories and designs a model approach containing recommendations on the collection of administrative data beyond current practices.
77. Secondly, lit.b creates the obligation for Parties to support research in the field of all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. It is essential that Parties base their policies and measures to prevent and combat such forms of violence on state-of-the art research and knowledge in this field. Research is a key element of evidence-based policy-making and can thus contribute greatly to improving day-to-day, real-world responses to violence against women and domestic violence by the judiciary, support services and law enforcement agencies. This provision therefore requires Parties to undertake to support research efforts in order to pursue further knowledge of the root causes and effects of the problem, incidences and conviction rates, as well as of the efficiency of measures taken in implementation of the Convention.
78. Paragraph 2 details Parties’ obligation to endeavour conducting population-based surveys. This implies collecting data that are statistically representative of the target population so that they can be easily generalised to the larger population. Population-based surveys can provide more general sociologically oriented insights into the prevalence, nature, determinants and consequences of all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention. They can also provide reliable data on victims’ experiences of violence, on the reasons for not reporting, on the services received, as well as victims’ opinions of and attitudes towards such violence. Parties are additionally obliged to conduct such surveys at regular intervals in order to make a pertinent and comparative assessment of the prevalence and the trends in all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention by tracking developments longitudinally. In this case, the choice of population sample size and the regularity of such studies is left to the Parties. Depending on the Party, the scope of the surveys may be national, regional or local. It is however important to note that the combination of these levels can provide a macroscopic view of the phenomenon while also highlighting local or regional specificities. When designing population-based surveys, Parties may refer to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women as well as to the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS).
79. The drafters considered it important to highlight the distinction between population-based surveys and statistical administrative and judicial data for they serve different purposes and answer different questions. While the first can shed light on the level of severity and frequency as well as on the socio-economic and cultural factors leading to violence against women and domestic violence, the second can contribute to address capacity issues of government agencies and evaluate the effectiveness of services provided for victims of such violence. Using both types of data collection methods in conjunction can help gain an in-depth picture of the problem. Due to a lack of shared definitions and common indicators for evaluating the prevalence and trends of violence against women and domestic violence, data that are available rarely allow for cross-country comparison. Consequently, it would be beneficial for Parties to align the collection of data with standardised indicators and methods already in existence or currently under development. Parties should take into account existing developments or initiatives to provide reliable and comparable data such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights violence against women survey.
80. As laid out in Article 65 the process of collecting, storing and transforming collected data should comply with standards on data protection as contained in the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108), to ensure confidentiality and respect for the privacy of victims, perpetrators and other persons involved. The standards laid out in Article 65 do not only apply in cases of transnational data exchange, but to all processes of collecting, storing and transforming of collected data.
81. Complementing Article 68 (7), the third paragraph of this article entails the obligation of Parties to provide the independent Group of experts referred to in Chapter IX with the information collected in order to stimulate international co-operation and enable international benchmarking. This not only allows the identification of existing good practice but also contributes to its harmonisation across the Parties to the Convention.
82. Finally, paragraph 4 contains the obligation to ensure that the information collected pursuant to Article 11 is available to the public. It is however left to the Parties to determine the form and means, as well as the type of information that is to be made available. In making information collected pursuant to Article 11 available to the public, Parties shall pay special attention to the privacy rights of persons affected.