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Domestic violence bill goes for joint sitting

Five representatives from the two houses would sit together to discuss the Domestic Violence Prevention Bill of Bhutan, 2013, as National Assembly members yesterday refused to endorse 20 clauses amended by the National Council.

Of the 51 clauses National Council members made changes to, National Assembly member refused to endorse clauses that mentioned about who should conduct physical verification; and report the matter to police; to grading of offences of domestic violence and who the designated protection officer should function under.

The Women and Children Committee chairperson, Karma Lhamo, explained to assembly members that offences were graded differently as there are different types of violence perpetrated, inclusive of emotional and psychological violence.

In the discussion that took about four hours, most of it was on whether a separate court should be established for the trial of domestic violence cases.

While the National Assembly members stated that establishing a separate court is not practical and if necessary, His Majesty, on recommendation of National Judicial Commission, may establish a separate court.

Trongsa’s Drakten-Langthel MP, Rinchen Dorji, said it would be difficult to establish a separate court for domestic violence trial even in Thimphu, as courts in other dzongkhags might not deal with domestic violence cases and refer it to Thimphu, which would complicate things.

National Assembly members also refused to endorse the clause that mentioned about how media should report domestic violence cases. While the draft clause stated that media shall maintain professional standards including privacy in reporting and covering domestic violence, the National Council members included media ethics in the clause.

However, the National Assembly members refused to endorse it, stating that ethics is synonymous to standard.  Meanwhile, the National Assembly would have seek the approval of His Majesty to conduct a joint sitting.

By Tashi Dema

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