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Domestic Violence

This Law Was Enacted In 2015 With The Main Objective Of;

  1. Protecting and;
  2. Providing Relief To Victims Of Domestic Violence, Especially With Regard To Children And Spouses.

In section 3 Domestic Violence means; Actual violence against a person, threat of violence or imminent danger to the said person by a person who is or has been in a domestic relationship with that person.

Section 3, Violence is defined to mean any of the following circumstances;

  1. Abuse in the form of child marriage, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced wife inheritance, interference from in-laws, sexual violence within marriage, virginity testing, and widow cleansing or depriving the applicant of or hindering the applicant from access to or a reasonable share of the facilities associated with the applicant's place of residence.
  2. Damage to property
  3. Defilement;
  4. Economic abuse;
  5. Emotional or psychological abuse;
  6. Forcible entry into the applicant's residence where the parties do not share the same residence.
  7. Harassment;
  8. Incest;
  9. Intimidation
  10. Physical abuse;
  11. Sexual abuse;
  12. Stalking;
  13. Verbal abuse; or
  14. Any other conduct against a person, that harms or is likely to harm that person.

In Section 4 a Domestic Relationship is deemed to exist if a person;

  1. is married to that other person
  2. has previously been married to that other person
  3. is living in the same household with that person
  4. has been in a marriage with the other person which has been dissolved or declared null
  5. is a family member of that other person
  6. is or has been engaged to get married to that person
  7. has a child with that other person
  8. Has a close personal relationship with the other person.

POLICE: Section 6 (1) (a) and (b) of the Act, police officers have a duty to advise complainants of domestic violence, of the presence of and how to apply for relief measures available such as shelter and medical assistance. 

The Inspector General of Police is required to ensure that police officers are trained to deal with such matters and that the reporting process is effective, efficient and fast.

  1. Section 24 (1-4), the Court has an obligation to inform all applicants for protection orders of reliefs available in the Act ( especially where a party does not have a lawyer),
    1. effect of any order it grants and the means of enforcement,
    2. the right to institute criminal proceedings against the respondent if a criminal offence was committed and
    3. the right to claim compensation for any loss suffered or injury caused by the domestic violence.
  2. Section 25, Any person who applies for a protection order on behalf of the victim is required to serve such application on the victim or their parent or guardian. The victim has a right to object to the application on their behalf.
  3. Section 26- the court does not begin or continue the hearing where the persons on whose behalf the application was made objects to the application being heard or determined.
  4. Section 27 (1) and (2) the Court has the responsibility before making a protection order, to explain to the respondent the purpose, the term and effect of the order, consequences of non-compliance with the order and the means of revoking or changing the order.
    However, such an order cannot be invalidated by the sole reason that the court did not did not explain any particular matter contained in the order to the respondent.
  5. Section 28, The right to privacy of the proceedings. Only the officers of the court, parties, witnesses, representatives and advocates if any are allowed to attend the proceedings.
    Persons allowed by court to attend the proceedings may also attend and at any time the court may direct a witness to leave the court room.
  6. Section 29. Court may receive evidence at any time during the hearing or even at the appeal stage.
  7. Section 32, establishes the right to compensation where a victim of domestic violence incurs personal injury, damage to property or financial loss as a result of the domestic violence.
    In awarding damages or compensation, the court considers;
    1. the pain and suffering of the victim,
    2. cost of medical treatment,
    3. loss of earnings,
    4. value of the property damaged,
    5. financial position of the victim,
    6. relationship between the parties and the possibility of dealing with the matter under the financial provision of spouses or former spouses and other dependents.
  8. Section 33 (2) A victim of domestic violence or applicant has the right to seek protection or redress under the Act. The fact that the respondent has been prosecuted under the Act or any other written law does not affect this right.

Section 9(4) A victim can apply for a protection order on their own. Section 9 a representative can apply on behalf of a victim ( must notify the child’s parent or guardian).

Section 9  A child can give evidence in the proceedings.

Section 9(2) The following representatives have a right to apply for redress on behalf of a minor under this Act,

  1. a parent or guardian,
  2. a children officer,
  3. the Director of Children's Services,
  4. a police officer,
  5. a probation officer,
  6. a conciliator,
  7. any other person with the leave of the court,
  8. social welfare officer,
  9. a relative or neighbour,
  10. a person acting on behalf of a religious organisation or a non-governmental organization concerned with the welfare of victims of domestic violence.

Section 7 any person can report a Domestic violence. The identity of persons who report is not to be disclosed and they are not to be prosecuted or disciplinary action taken against them unless they provide information maliciously to injure another person.

  1. Section 8(1)- A person in a domestic relationship with another may apply for a protection order in respect of their partner.
  2. A person above 18 years.
  3. Section 8 (2)( and (3) and 11, In case of a child or a person incapable of understanding matters of their personal care and welfare, or communicating decisions regarding such matters, the application may be made by a representative.
  4. Section 8(1-6) Where a representative makes the application, it can be with or without the consent of the victim as long as they obtain the leave of the court.
  5. Section 9 (1-5), A child may make an application for protection order through any of the following representatives;
    1. a parent or guardian,
    2. a children officer,
    3. the Director of Children's Services,
    4. a police officer,
    5. a probation officer,
    6. a conciliator,
    7. any other person with the leave of the court,
    8. social welfare officer,
    9. a relative or neighbour,
    10. a person acting on behalf of a religious organisation or a non-governmental organization concerned with the welfare of victims of domestic violence.

    The parent or guardian of that child should however be served with a copy of the application.

  6. Section 11- where the victim is not a child but requires a Representative; the Court will appoint a Representative where;
    1. the Representative has reasonably ascertained the wishes of the victim;
    2. the victim consents to being represented;
    3. the appointment of the representative is in the best interest of the victim;
    4. the representative accepts his appointment in writing; and
    5. there is no conflict of interest between the victim and the representative.

Section 12; Where there is risk of harm or undue hardship to the applicant or child of the applicant, court may give an interim protection order without notice and outside ordinary court days or hours.

Such an order will remain valid until the protection order replaces it or it is changed or revoked by court.

When issuing an interim protection order, court will consider among other things;

  1. the nature and seriousness of the respondent's behaviour and
  2. the effects of that behaviour on the applicant or a child of the applicant's family.

Where court grants an interim protection order it will attach an order summoning the respondent.

The court may require the respondent to tell the court why the protection order should not be made.

Under What Circumstance is a Protection Order Issued by the Court

  1. Section 13, the Court usually grants a protection order if it is satisfied that-
    1. the respondent used domestic violence against the applicant or their child or both
    2. where the order is necessary to protect such applicant or child.
  2. Section 17, A protection order may also apply against any person who assisted the respondent in the acts of domestic violence.
  3. Section 18, the Court may also grant a protection order in favour of the respondent or person accused of the violence where it deems fit to do so, even if they have not made application for it.

Section 14, The court may also direct parties to participate in counselling and conciliation processes or other programmes.

Section 19 (1)

The protection order directs the respondent not to engage in the following acts:

  1. physical or sexual abuse or threat to abuse the protected person;
  2. damage, or threaten to damage, any property of the protected person;
  3. engage, or threaten to engage, in behaviour including intimidation or harassment, which amounts to psychological abuse of the protected person;
  4. encourage any person to engage in behaviour against the protected person where the behaviour, if engaged in by the respondent would be prohibited by the order;
  5. engage, or threaten to engage, in behaviour including intimidation, harassment or stalking which amounts to emotional, verbal or psychological abuse of the protected person;
  6. engage, or threaten to engage, in economic abuse of the protected person; or
  7. Engage, or threaten to engage, in cultural or customary rites or practices that abuse the protected person.

Section 19 (2)

The protection order is also issued with the following conditions that operate against the respondent except where the applicant and respondent are in the same dwelling house. The respondent shall not;

  1. watch, loiter near, or prevent access to or from, the protected person's place of residence, business, employment, educational institution, or other place that the protected person visits often
  2. stalk the protected person or stop or accost the protected person in any place
  3. without the protected person's express consent, enter or remain on any land or building occupied by the protected person
  4. where the protected person is present on any land or building, enter or remain on that land or building, in circumstances that constitute a trespass
  5. make any other contact with the protected person (whether by telephone ' correspondence otherwise), except such contact that is required in case of emergency, permitted under an order relating to custody or where a special condition exists in the protection order.

Section 24 - Resident Magistrates' Courts have jurisdiction to handle all matters arising out of the Act. One may apply for a protection order from this court and if desired by the court, attach a supporting affidavit affirming the truthfulness of the matters stated in the application.

The Court may then direct a police officer, social worker, probation officer, medical practitioner, children officer or other appropriate person or authority to investigate the acts or omissions of the domestic violence and forward findings directly to court.

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