Sharia Courts interfered to protect domestic abusers, MPs told

A leading British Sharia Council intervened to prevent men accused of domestic violence from facing criminal charges, according to testimony submitted to a Commons Committee

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The Independent Online

Leading figures from the UK’s Sharia councils will give evidence in parliament tomorrow, in the wake of accusations that a leading Sharia court has been protecting domestic abusers from criminal proceedings.

The Home Affairs Select Committee has published written evidence submitted to it that is heavily critical of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (Mat) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in advance of its session on Tuesday. The Mat states on its website that it urges the Crown Prosecution Service to “reconsider” criminal charges brought against Muslim men accused of domestic violence.

The Southall Black Sisters, a group that helps vulnerable women, have told the committee that the strategy of asking the CPS to "reconsider" cases is an "attempt to sabotage criminal proceedings".

They state: "The Mat actively involves itself in criminal proceedings on domestic violence. It uses its position of power to persuade the CPS to drop charges and to encourage women to reconcile with abusive partners without reference to court orders they may already have or to risk assessments and safety planning," the organisation's submission claims.

On its own wesbite, the Mat claims that it seeks to provide reconciliations between Muslim couples. “The terms of such a reconciliation can then be passed by the Mat to the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] through the local police domestic violence liaison officers with a view to reconsidering the criminal charges,” it states.

In 2008, the Sunday Times reported that the tribunal had intervened in six cases of domestic violence, in which no punishment was eventually brought. In each case the women withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police.

The parliamentary inquiry into sharia courts, which have been allowed to provide arbitration in Islamic communities in the UK since, 1982. Will hear from several witnesses this week.