To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the letter from the IC Change coalition to the Home Secretary on 30 May, which invites them to ratify the Istanbul Convention without reservations and without waiting for the findings of the Support for Migrant Victims pilot scheme evaluation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence on the effects of applying a reservation on Article 59 of the Istanbul Convention; and what assessment they have made of the impact of applying a reservation on Article 59 of the Istanbul Convention.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to revisit the reservation on Article 59 of the Istanbul Convention after the Support for Migrant Victims pilot scheme evaluation is published; how long they expect the process of revisiting the reservation to take; and when the reservation might be lifted if the decision is taken to do so.
The UK signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012, signalling its strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and the Government has been working hard to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as we possibly can.
On 17 May, the Home Secretary made a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament confirming that the UK will commence the ratification process for the Istanbul Convention and that we will be applying two reservations, including one on Article 59 which relates to support for migrant victims of domestic abuse.
The last annual progress report on ratification of the Convention confirmed that the UK’s position on Article 59 is “under review” pending the results and evaluation of the Support for Migrant Victims (SMV) scheme. This £1.5 million scheme was set up to address evidence gaps regarding which cohorts of migrant victims are likely to be most in need of support, the numbers involved and how well existing arrangements may address their needs. The evaluation will conclude this summer, which will enable the Government to take evidence-based decisions on how best to protect these victims in the long term, and we will then consider what, if any, policy changes should be made. Therefore, we decided to apply a reservation on Article 59, which nine other countries have also done, to enable the UK to ratify as soon as possible. This decision is wholly without prejudice to the conclusions relating to Article 59 and corresponding policy decisions reached in the light of the evaluation of the SMV scheme, at which point we would be able either to maintain the reservation or to withdraw it under Article 78(4) of the Convention. We will do this as soon as possible, but I cannot provide a timescale.
We will reply in due course to the letter from the IC Change coalition. As the role of the Group of experts on action against violence against women and domestic violence is to monitor the implementation of the Convention by those parties which have ratified it, rather than to assess the terms under which a party decides to ratify the Convention, the Government has not discussed the reservation on Article 59 with them.