Prosecutor report: Domestic violence should be punished more severely

Trials like the one of former IT minister Matti Kuusik (EKRE) are rare, as most domestic violence cases are settled outside court, often resulting in sentences that ultimately are too lenient, a report by the Office of the Prosecutor General found. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

In a report looking into several dozen domestic violence incidents, the Office of the Prosecutor General finds that in a large number of cases, punishments sought by the prosecutor have been unreasonably light, daily Postimees reported.

The punishments were unduly light mainly because the chosen way out in many cases was a compromise procedure (plea bargain) rather than the matter being taken to court. These procedures tend to lead to significant concessions on the part of the prosecutors, the report stressed, which in some cases aren't actually justified.

This means that cases where a dispute involving domestic violence, such as that of former EKRE IT minister Marti Kuusik, actually makes it to court are exceedingly rare, Postimees wrote.

Opting for a compromise procedure instead often results in decisions that don't include a supervision of the perpetrator's conduct, the report found further. This is an expression of extraordinary leniency on the part of the prosecuting authorities, seeing as a lot of the cases in question still involved serious acts of violence against the victims.

Still, it isn't the prosecutor alone who decides: a judge still has to sign off on the chosen option. A Harju County Court judge who talked to Postimees said that they have, for the most part, returned such compromises if a supervision of conduct is not included.

As a general rule, when seeking a sentence, the average rate is taken from the Penal Code, which specifies a 30-month prison sentence in the case of this crime. The eventual time of the punishment will then either be added to that, or subtracted from it, based on aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

However, it appears that where the pecuniary practice is concerned regarding perpetrators of domestic violence, the time of punishment is usually subtracted from the average rate, and punishments of more than 30 months are rare, with the overall average being just a year.

Meanwhile, punishment might not always be the right way to go. "There are never two identical cases of domestic violence. We don't solve episodes of violence, but family histories. Punishment, imprisonment in particular, may not be the most effective solution here by far," prosecutor Karin Talviste told Postimees.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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