Harriet Harman, Chair of the Committee, has written to Victoria Atkins MP and Edward Argar MP sharing the Committee’s views on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which is intended to transform the response to domestic abuse and ensure the UK meets the standards of the Istanbul Convention, an international set of standards designed to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.
Based on the written submissions received from over 70 stakeholders, the Committee probes a number of rights-related issues:
- The Committee asks how the fact the Bill is England and Wales only is compliant with the requirements of the Istanbul Convention that the UK protect ensures that the protections within the Convention extend to the whole of the jurisdiction unless there is a valid reason.
- The draft Bill does nothing to address the specific challenges facing migrant women. The JCHR asks how this is compliant with the requirements of the Istanbul Convention that the UK protect victims without discrimination as to immigration status.
- The statutory definition of domestic abuse may leave some forms of domestic relationships outside of scope. The JCHR asks the Government to consider whether there are gaps.
- The prohibition on direct cross-examination of victims by perpetrators (and vice versa) may not afford protection to all victims, particularly those who cannot rely on a conviction, charge, caution or injunction against their abuser. The JCHR asks whether the prohibition should be widened to protect more victims of domestic abuse from further harm in the family courts.
- Finally, the letter asks the Government to clarify whether there are plans to review the effectiveness of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and whether the proposed new civil order regime will be more effective in protecting victims than the current regime.