May 07, 2019 News
Following the opening of the Sexual Offences Court in Georgetown in November 2017, and the commitment to decentralize specialized court services, the Judiciary in partnership with UNICEF Guyana, will open the Sexual Offences Court in New Amsterdam, Berbice, today.
According to a statement from UNICEF, both courts will follow the model guidelines to ensure that their operation is in line with the Sexual Offences Act and meets best practice.
To that end, the work of the court will be complemented by the support services offered by the Ministry of Social Protection and other partners, for instance through the one-stop centres or Child Advocacy Centres for the reporting of abuse.
Additionally, a Sexual Offences Court is expected to be completed in Essequibo before December 2019, with the support of the British High Commission and UNICEF Guyana. The Judiciary and UNICEF Guyana remains committed to strengthening services and promoting justice- in the best interests of all in Guyana- including children.
The Sexual Offences Court in Georgetown is equipped with audio-visual devices to aid the testimony of witnesses. There are two screens in the courtroom that provide the complainants with a more suitable setting to face their alleged perpetrators. The court also has a competent panel of Judges and Prosecutors.
Kaieteur News has reported that prior to the establishment of the specialized courtroom in Guyana, a notable number of sexual offences matters were nolle prosequi, often because of complainants’ unwillingness to testify before the High Court. Added to that, due to the sensitive nature of such cases, sexual assault victims are often terrified of reporting their experience to the police.
Then, after the matters are investigated, then persons are charged, the case usually moves at a slow pace through the court system. And when the matters do reach the court, victims may decline to continue with the matter due to the time it takes and how traumatizing the experience can be.
However, with the purpose-built facility in operation, jurists have reported that more sexual assault victims are finding the courage to seek justice via the courts.
UNICEF is on the ground in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.
The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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