Rachel Woods MLA has welcomed the progression of the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Bill today (Monday 13th September), which will go some way to enhance protections for victims of sexual offences.
Green Party NI MLA Rachel Woods, who is a member of the Justice Committee in Stormont, was speaking as the Justice Bill received its Second Stage reading.
“This Bill marks an incredibly important step towards legislating for a number of Gillen Review recommendations, alongside criminalising up skirting and down blousing in Northern Ireland. It will close some of the gaps, resolving inconsistencies and modernise our laws to protect victims, as our current laws are lagging behind other jurisdictions. I also welcome the provisions in relation to human trafficking, as one person trafficked is one too many.
“However, it’s also important to say that we could have, and should have more protections and changes included in this Bill. If it wasn’t for concerns about what might be added to the Justice Bill through amendment, then its scope would be much wider.
“For example, the Committee should also be looking at issues like legal aid, restorative justice, and matters in relation children’s rights in the justice system; but proposals that we were promised last year are now absent.
“Some difficult questions will have to be answered as to why some important changes to our laws now cannot be made, and I look forward to scrutinising this Bill as a member of the Justice Committee and ensuring victims voices are heard.”
Press contact - Rachel Woods, 07730041761