The Draft Domestic Abuse Bill

Comments by The Joint Committee on Human Rights

Houses of Parliament

The Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Harriett Harman MP, has written to Victoria Atkins MP and Edward Argar MP to provide the Committee's views on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

The letter raises a variety of human rights focused concerns with the Draft Bill as it stands – from the protections offered to migrant women, to the Bill's exclusion of the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland – but also picks up specifically on some of the issues that the MA highlighted in its own submission to the Committee.

For example, echoing our concerns, the letter explains that the wording of the new statutory definition of domestic abuse may leave unintended gaps in the protection that it offers – specifically where individuals live with an abuser but are not personally connected as a family member or via an intimate relationship. The Committee also highlights concerns from stakeholders around the proposals to introduce the new Domestic Abuse Protection Order, asking for clarification as to how the new regime would improve protections offered to victims under existing civil orders.

With regard to the prohibition of the cross-examination of alleged victims by alleged perpetrators in the family courts, the Committee found that some stakeholders were concerned with the scope of the prohibition, and the level of judicial discretion that it would involve. The letter subsequently asks for the government to consider whether an automatic ban should be in place for all cases that involve domestic abuse, irrespective of whether there is a conviction, charge, caution or injunction against the perpetrator.

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