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Justice Committee calls for views on criminalising forced marriage

13 November 2013

Should forced marriage become a criminal ofence in Scotland? Holyrood's Justice Committee poses the question today as part of a consultation on whether the Scottish Parliament should consent to Westminster passing legislation affecting devolved powers.

The consultation covers three separate matters included in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill: the enforcement of civil protection orders relating to sexual offenders; the criminalisation of forced marriage; and the functions of Scottish Ministers in relation to firearms offences.

Breach of a forced marriage protection order is already a criminal offence in Scotland, but the bill would make it a criminal offence for a person to use violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter into a marriage without their free and full consent. It is intended to ensure that the Scottish Government meets its obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).

The provision relating to sex offenders would enable breaches in Scotland of new types of civil orders in England & Wales, prescribing the activities of sexual offenders, to be treated as offences.

On firearms, the bill re-transfers powers over firearms offences to Scottish ministers since it contains provisions for a new offence of possession for sale or transfer of any prohibited weapon.

Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame MSP said: “This new UK bill would introduce a new criminal offence of forced marriage into Scotland. We want to hear from stakeholders on whether they think this is an improvement on our current legal situation or not?

“Currently in Scotland a victim or a local authority can apply to the court for a forced marriage protection order and then any breach of that would result in contempt of court. It may be stakeholders believe that is sufficient.

“We welcome all views on this and the two further areas of the LCM.”

Click here to view the call for evidence. The deadline for responses is 5pm on 29 November 2013. In order for the Scottish Parliament to decide on whether to give consent prior to the last amending stage in Westminster, the Justice Committee is required to report before Christmas. 

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