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All migrant victims of domestic abuse and violence must be protected, says Lords committee

17 June 2022

The International Agreements Committee has today called on the Government to review and lift, as soon as possible, a reservation it is proposing to enter to an important protection for migrant victims of domestic abuse in an international Convention.

The report

Whilst welcoming the Government’s decision finally to ratify the Istanbul Convention a decade after signing it, the Lords International Agreement Committee regrets that one part of it will not be included—a protection for migrant women whose residency status depends on their spouse or partner, but who themselves are victims of domestic violence.

To support migrant victims who depend on their spouse or partner for their residence status, the Istanbul Convention includes an obligation to grant an autonomous residence permit for such victims, in the event of particularly difficult circumstances. Yet the Government is seeking to opt out of that obligation.

Chair’s comments

Baroness Hayter, Chair of the House of Lords International Agreements Committee said:

“The Istanbul Convention provides a comprehensive framework to counter violence against women and girls. While we welcome its ratification, albeit a decade after it was signed, we are deeply concerned that the UK Government is opting out of a key provision—the obligation to provide, in particularly difficult circumstances, an autonomous residence permit to migrant victims of domestic violence who rely on their spouse or partner for their own residency.

“Migrant women should not be put in a position where they have to choose between reporting the abuse and seeking help, and protecting the perpetrator on whose residency status they rely for fear of losing their own legal immigration status.

“We do not see any justification for the reservation and believe it should be withdrawn as soon as possible”

Further information