189. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Justice the status of her plans to introduce an offence of non-fatal strangulation. [57820/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Non-fatal strangulation and asphyxiation are common features of domestic abuse and are often an indication that victims are at further risk of potentially lethal violence.
While strangulation is currently prosecuted as a crime under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, I have discussed with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris making it a standalone offence.
I believe there is an argument that providing greater clarity with a standalone offence would encourage victims to come forward and report what has happened to them. Strong and clear laws would help with the reporting and prosecution of such crimes and send a clear signal to victims that the State is here to help them – and punish their abusers.
I have asked my Department to examine the implications of introducing a standalone offence to strengthen the existing legislation in this area.
It is important to note that non-fatal strangulation is already an offence prosecutable under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
Under section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 (Assault), a person who, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly directly or indirectly applies force to or causes an impact on the body of another, without the consent of the other, is guilty of the offence of assault. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €2,500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
Under section 3 (Assault causing harm) of that Act, a person who assaults another causing him or her harm is guilty of an offence. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding €2,500 or to both, or
(b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both.
“Harm” is defined as harm to body or mind and includes pain and unconsciousness.