Apr 05, 2016 News
-as victims continue to shy away from court
Despite implementing measures to toughen the laws against sexual offenders, successful prosecution of sexual offences continues to be difficult and way below expectations.
Recent figures from the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) show that of the 18 sexual offences cases that came up in the January session of the Demerara Assizes, just above 10 per cent ended in convictions.
But from all indications it’s not a case of poor prosecution; it’s just that most of the complainants are pulling out at the last moment.
Of the 19 sexual offences cases, the DPP was forced to withdraw (nolle prosequi) five of them because the complainants in written statements indicated that they no longer wished to proceed with their matters.
The matters that were withdrawn by the DPP include Buggery, Carnal Knowledge of Girl under 15 Years, Sexual Activity with A Child By Abusing a Position of Trust and Rape of A child Under 16 years.
Three judges presided in the Demerara Assizes and all of them had sexual offences matters to deal with.
Justice Navindra Singh dealt with three rape cases and in all of them the Virtual Complainants indicated that they did not wish to give evidence against the accused.
Justice Singh also dealt with three cases of sexual activity with a child family member.
In one of these matters, the accused was acquitted. In another matter, the trial judge directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty after the Complainant indicated to the Court that she did not wish to proceed with the evidence against the accused.
The accused in the third case was remanded to prison pending his trial in April because he was in breach of the conditions of his bail.
The same judge however presided over two cases of rape of a child under 16 years and in both instances, the accused were found guilty and each received 25-year prison sentences.
Justice Jo-Ann Barlow also had her share of sexual offences to deal with.
She dealt with two matters for the offence of Carnal Knowledge of Girl under 15 years.
In one of the two matters, the accused, who was indicted on three counts, was acquitted after the jury returned a majority verdict of 10 not guilty to two guilty.
The trial for the other matter was aborted after the Court learnt that the accused had died before the verdict was given.
Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry presided over one carnal knowledge of a girl under 15 years and two cases of rape of a child under 16 years.
In one case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the Virtual Complainant declined to continue with the matter, while in the other two sexual offences matters, the accused were found not guilty by the respective juries.
The same scenario was played out in the Berbice Criminal Assizes although only one sexual offence matter came before the Presiding Judge, Franklyn Holder.
The accused in the matter for Sexual Activity with A Child Family member had the benefit of a formal verdict of not guilty after the Prosecution had offered no evidence against the accused due to the absence of the Complainant.
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