NI: Draft domestic abuse legislation lacks adequate coverage, MPs warn

NI: Draft domestic abuse legislation lacks adequate coverage, MPs warn

Draft domestic abuse legislation fails to protect women in Northern Ireland, MPs have warned.

The legislation introduces a statutory definition of domestic abuse to encompass economic abuse as well as controlling and manipulative behaviour.

In a letter to the UK government, Harriet Harman MP, chair of the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, wrote that there are concerns Northern Ireland’s exclusion from the bill would “result in unequal and inadequate protections for victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland”.

Ms Harman added that victims in Northern Ireland would be ineligible to apply for Domestic Abuse Protection Notices.

She asked the government for a “valid reason” for leaving Northern Ireland out of the draft bill.

The MP also sought clarification that the draft bill complies with the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s legal framework for tackling violence against women and girls.

Chiara Capraro, women’s rights manager at Amnesty UK, said: “This letter sheds important light on the unequal treatment of women across the UK. The current Bill neglects both women in Northern Ireland and migrant women. It seems that in the Government’s eyes, some lives matter more than others.

“This bill is intended as a final step towards the UK ratifying the Istanbul Convention, but in its current form it not only falls short of the convention’s requirements but risks dividing women into those who count and those who don’t.”

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 came into force on April 1, for more information on it visit our sister publication, Scottish Legal News.

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