Northern Ireland victims of domestic violence asked for views on protection law
Domestic violence victims in Northern Ireland have been asked for their views on protecting them from a cross-examination by their abusers in family courts.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched an eight-week consultation on changing the law on the practice here.
Proposed changes include a ban on cross-examination in certain cases and a discretionary power for the court to prevent others.
This would mirror a similar law here that protects victims of sexual offences.
Those who have faced cross-examination by a defendant are especially encouraged to respond.
The views of people who have represented themselves and carried out such a cross-examination are also welcomed.
This month, the Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to Parliament.
It proposes the protection for victims in England and Wales, as well as some measures for Northern Ireland including a new domestic abuse offence.
The DoJ and the UK government will consider making the changes on cross-examination for Northern Ireland after the consultation ends.
A major setback, however, is that it may not be possible to legislate on the change here until the Executive and Assembly are restored.
Peter May is the DoJ's Permanent Secretary. "The department is committed to protecting victims of domestic abuse right across the justice system and for this reason we want to consider potential legislative measures to protect victims from being cross-examined by the perpetrator in family courts," he said.
"We would also like to hear from all court users, people working within the family justice system, community and voluntary sector organisations, and anyone else with an interest in the family justice system."
The consultation is now open and can be found by visiting www.justice-ni.gov.uk