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National Assembly

National Assembly in favour of Domestic Violence Bill, 2019 | 27 May 2020

Minister for Family Affairs Mitcy Larue, principal secretary for family affairs Marie-Josée Bonne and Attorney General Frank Ally yesterday appeared before the National Assembly to present the Domestic Violence Bill, 2019, which is to replace the Family Violence (Protection of Victims Act), 2000.

The Bill was approved by 26 votes in favour.

In presenting the Bill, Minister Larue listed the objectives and rationale behind it, noting that it defines different forms of violence, criminalises acts of domestic violence, sets out the role of the police in relation to victims in need of shelter, impart powers to social services to take up legal action against the abuser even if the victim removes their plaint, as well as enlarging the options available to third parties seeking protection for a victim.

Furthermore, the Bill makes provisions for protection orders setting out the procedures, protection of persons who provide information as well as provisions on assisting minors and persons who are functionally limited.

She further listed numerous conventions on human rights and domestic violence on which the provisions of the Bill are based.

Members of the assembly intervened each providing their perspective of the devastating and traumatic effects of domestic abuse on children and victims and talking the assembly through different abuse scenarios.

Honourable Florry Larue in her intervention noted that the minister’s role is crucial to the functioning of the Bill, urging collective action.

Similarly, Honourable Sylvanne Lemiel, the member for Anse Royale, expressed support for the Bill asserting that it should have come sooner.

The majority of members who intervened approved especially of the provision to allow the director of social affairs to take up a legal matter against the abuser, even if the victim backs down so as to send a clear message to others that domestic abuse is not tolerated.

“The law will not only protect victims, but will also help the abuser by opening up access to rehabilitation. We can’t talk only of victims, but the abuser after completing their sentence will be freed into society again, so rehabilitation is just as important,” Honourable Regina Esparon stated.

Minister Larue during the session provided the assembly with statistics of domestic violence noting a steady increase from the year 2000 when 122 cases were recorded. By 2007, there were 226 cases and 371 registered cases in 2019 while a whopping 5429 cases were registered at Family Tribunal between the periods of 2009 to 2019.

Following clarifications and minor amendments in the wording of the Bill, it was approved by 26 votes.

The assembly is scheduled to resume this morning at 9am.

 

Laura Pillay

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