New domestic violence legislation coming soon − Min Persaud

The government is demonstrating its zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence with its announcement that it hopes to implement sweeping changes to the existing laws to further protect and respond to the societal ill affecting families in Guyana.

As such, the government will be overhauling the ‘Domestic Violence Act’ of 1996, with some 40 proposed amendments, which the Human Services and Social Security Ministry hopes will address all forms of violence.

Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud

Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud said the changes will be made soon after the new legislation undergoes the scrutiny of the National Assembly.

She made this disclosure on Friday while speaking to police officers during the graduation ceremony for 500 ranks who were trained through the ministry’s COPSQUAD2000 initiative at the National Cultural Centre.

“There will be brand new legislation coming out this year to ensure that your roles are more defined and your roles are more expansive. Removing much of the discretion and ensuring that there is a more protective reportive response to all members of society,” the minister said.

Although the current domestic violence legislation has a more civil component to it, as opposed to a penal one, the new legislation will contain both.

“The law that we had or we have currently is a robust one but we are very conscious that with the moment and the advancement of technology, violence can permeate our society in many different ways, as such through the training you have received, I have no doubts that you are much more familiar with the newer forms of violence which will be captured in the brand-new piece of legislation that is slated to come out very soon,” the minister relayed.  

The proposed amendments include requiring the expansion of the current Domestic Violence Act, which entails the definitions of domestic violence. This will consist of a more comprehensive definition of economic, emotional and psychological violence.

Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud, Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn and graduates

In addition, penalties for breach of protection orders and inclusion of batterer intervention programmes and counselling as remedies under the law will be updated.

Heavy focus is also being placed on identifying mechanisms to tackle domestic violence as one of the key elements in modernising legislation and policies, ultimately strengthening systems.

To this end, the Human Services Ministry launched the COPSQUAD2000 initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs to train police ranks to respond to and service victims in a professional manner that helps to resolve conflict utilising the arm of the law.