Domestic abusers abroad to face trial here
DOMESTIC abusers who commit crimes abroad will face trial in Scottish courts under proposed new legislation.
Scots courts will have the power to prosecute such cases involving Scottish residents and UK nationals – even if the abuse happens outside the country.
MSPs yesterday examined a planned new law which criminalises psychological abuse and coercive control – and proposes a bail crackdown for the worst offenders.
The Scottish parliament’s justice committee scrutinised the Domestic Abuse Bill at the second stage of the parliamentary process. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson successfully put forward an amendment to give Scottish courts the power to prosecute domestic abuse cases involving UK nationals or habitual Scottish residents which happen outside Scotland.
He said: ‘This is particularly important given that the offence is constituted by a course of behaviour that can occur over time in various places.’
He gave an example of a couple in an abusive relationship where part of the abuse took place while on holiday in Spain.
The amendment was agreed, as were further changes creating a presumption against granting bail in serious domestic abuse cases and ensuring the impact on children is reflected in sentencing.
The SNP’s Linda Fabiani proposed a change to make nonharassment orders, known as restraining orders, mandatory but withdrew it when concerns were raised.
Mr Matheson said the change would ‘go too far’ in removing the ability of judges to make decisions on the orders.
Plans by Labour MSP Claire Baker to amend the Bill to roll out domestic abuse courts across Scotland, ending the ‘postcode lottery’ over having cases heard by these specialist courts, will be discussed at the next meeting on December 5.