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Time limits on protection orders

Legislation should provide that protection orders may be left in place for a minimum of one year.

Ideally, a protection order should be left in place permanently, and only terminated by a finding by a court, based on clear evidence, that there is no longer any danger to the complainant/survivor. That way, a complainant/survivor does not have to appear in court and possibly confront her abuser on a regular basis. The law should state that the termination of a protection order must be the responsibility of the court.

The law of Minnesota, USA, allows protection orders to be extended for up to 50 years under certain conditions:

Relief granted by the order for protection may be for a period of up to 50 years, if the court finds: (1) the respondent violated a prior or existing order for protection on two or more occasions; or (2) the petitioner has had two or more orders for protection in effect against the same respondent. Subd. 6a (b)

Examples: The  Law of India states that a protection order shall be in force until the complainant/survivor applies for discharge, or until the Mmagistrate, upon receipt of an application from the complainant/survivor or the respondent, is satisfied that there is a change in the circumstances, requiring alteration, modification or revocation of the protection order.  The Magistrate must record such a decision in writing. Ch. IV, 25.

Under the Law of Zimbabwe a protection order is valid for a minimum period of five years unless revoked or varied by the court upon an application by the applicant, applicant’s representative or the respondent. The law requires prior notice and a hearing for adjudication of the application. The applicant or applicant’s representative also may apply to have the protection order extended for up to an additional 24 months. Sections 11(2), 12.