On 28th of January 2021, the results of the cross-sectional Working Group that was held during 26th-27th of January 2021 in the framework of the bilateral initiative between European Anti-Violence Network (EAVN) and the Icelandic Police, were presented during an online press conference. This initiative was held in the framework of the Active citizens fund.
The speakers in the press conference were: the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, Ms. Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, the Super Intendant Chief of Icelandic Police, Mr. Karl Steinar Valsson, the press spokeswoman of the Hellenic Police, Police Captain, Ms. Ioanna Rotziokou, the President of the BoD of the Organization “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Υannopoulos and the BoD President of EAVN, Ms. Kiki Petroulaki, Psychologist, Ph.D.
The Working Group’s aim the exchange of good practices between Iceland and Greece in handling domestic violence cases and protecting abused women and their children.
EAVN organized this two-day Working Group with the participation of representatives of Greek institutional authorities and non-governmental organizations that provide support and protection to victims of domestic violence. Opening speeches were addressed by the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Ms. Maria Syrengela, the Police Brigadier General, Head of the General Policing Division of Hellenic Police Headquarters, Mr. Stylianos Vardiampasis and the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, Ms. Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir.
The Icelandic participants of the working group were: the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police and three of her associates and the former Minister of Social Welfare and Housing and currently a member of the newly established task force that addresses domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Eyglo Hardardottir. In the preparatory meeting for the working group, the Ambassador for Gender Equality in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Ms. Kristin A. Arnadottir, also participated.
The Greek participants were: the Police Captain Ms. Georgia Pasa, Head of the Domestic Violence Response Unit of the General Policing Division of Hellenic Police Headquarters and the Police Lieutenant Ms. Maria-Sofia Kyriakou, Officer at the same Unit, Ms. Evaggelia Karavia, LLM Lawyer, Special Associate to the General Secretary of Justice and Human Rights, Hellenic Ministry of Justice, Ms. Stella Chasirtzoglou, Legal Adviser at the Women Counceling Center of Thessaloniki, Research Centre for Gender Equality, Mr. Stefanos Alevizos, Psychologist, Head of the Greek National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of the “The Smile of the Child”, Ms. Kiki Petroulaki, Psychologist, Ph.D., BoD President of the European Anti-Violence Network and Ms. Antonia Tsirigoti, Psychologist, Member of the BoD of EAVN. The agenda of the Working Group is available at: http://antiviolence-net.eu/Agenda.pdf
The delegations of the two countries presented the methodology and tools they are using to protect and provide quality services to victims of domestic violence, especially women and children. The situation in Greece and the needs, the challenges that both countries face for the improvement of services provided to survivors of domestic violence and, finally, ways to promote an effective cooperation between the two countries and further consolidation of this cooperation were discussed in depth.
During the press conference, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police Ms. Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, opened and closed her speech with the phrase: «Domestic Violence is not to be tolerated. In the last 8 to 10 years we have changed our views and our methods. Our views are now more victim oriented and we work with partners from the social sector and ngo´s in order to ensure the safety of victims and to bring the perpetrators to justice. By listening to victims and analysing cases, we saw that it was necessary to investigate the cases as soon as they happened, not later. By securing evidence, the police and prosecutors can continue with the case without the burden of the case being on the shoulder of the victim. The other big change was that the police and the municipalities made agreements where social workers can be sent to the scene, to support the victim, get them medical help and advise them on the next steps. We have made mistakes on our journey but we have learned from them and we are fully committed to do better and will continue our journey as long as necessary.”
The BoD President of the European Network against Violence, Ms. Kiki Petroulaki stressed: "What will remain indelibly engraved in our memory are: a) the personal commitment of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, which is the determining factor for the absolute way in which Icelandic Police place the protection of victims as a priority, which confirmed to us what we also believe, namely that where there is no road, you open one… by walking… and b) the instantaneous and coordinated reaction of all systems (Police, Judiciary and support services) and the individualized approach of each victim of domestic or other violence, which all initiate from the deep belief that a person cannot be entitled to less than me!!!. And since Iceland has undergone a radical reformation in just 5 years, we certainly can do it also, as long as we want it!" Finally, she warmly thanked both the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, characterizing her as a valuable companion in this journey that has already begun towards a substantial partnership among agencies and between the two countries, as well as the Chief of the Hellenic Police, Lieutenant General, Michail Karamalakis, for the warm acceptance and the positive response of the Hellenic Police in this bilateral cooperation. The press spokeswoman of the Hellenic Police, Police Captain, Ms. Ioanna Rotziokou, stressed: "we urge women who suffer from domestic violence not to stay silent, to report the incidents to the Hellenic Police. She also mentioned that, in addition to the phone call to the Emergency Center (100), and especially for women who are not able to speak on the phone, there is also the possibility of sending a text message (SMS) to 100, including their exact address, name and type of urgency (eg "my life is in danger", "I accept violence from my spouse"). Ms. Rotziokou closed with the message of the Hellenic Police campaign ‘YOU HAVE VOICE, WE ARE BY YOUR SIDE‘".
The President of the Organization "The Smile of the Child", Mr. Costas Υannopoulos stressed: "as stated by the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, the case of an abused human being is not a matter of the Police only, it is a matter of the society. We must learn to see the person and not the case. We warmly thank the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police for her humane approach to the issue of violence against women and children and for the utmost importance she attaches to the anthropocentric approach of the victims, their protection and their holistic support. We will continue our cooperation with Iceland in order to be able in some years to reach this remarkable level in Greece as well. We warmly thank Ms. Petroulaki and the Hellenic Police for our substantial and timeless cooperation all these years. ‘The Smile of the Child‘ will be a standing supporter of this effort, which will significantly benefit the Greek society."
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