With an increase in sexual offence court matters appearing across the eastern Caribbean, the region could have its first sexual offences court by year’s end, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Janice Pereira has said.
Pereira said the twin island state of Antigua and Barbuda will participate in what is being described as a pilot project, setting the stage for other jurisdictions to follow.
She said Antigua & Barbuda was selected as the jurisdiction for the pilot project after a ‘review’ was conducted.
Pereira, in the meantime, said the increased appearances for sex-related matters does not mean that the commission of sexual offences has increased.
Rather, she said it could indicate that more sexual offences are being reported and being prosecuted as gender sensitivity awareness grows across all levels of society.
“It is important therefore that the courts be equipped to deal with these matters in a way that also addresses the sensitivity of these types of cases particularly as it relates to the vulnerability of complainants involved especially children and young persons,” she said while commenting on the soon-to-be-implemented project.
The project aims to improve the ability of the court to provide more gender-responsive services and to be more focused and understanding of the sensitivity of cases involving victims of sexual offences.
The project is being spearheaded by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) and is being executed through the Caribbean Court of Justice.
JURIST is a five-year judicial reform for the Caribbean funded by the Government of Canada. It is intended to breathe life into the court administration and to fortify the court’s ability to resolve matters swiftly and fairly.
Pereira made the announcement of a sexual offences court during the opening of the 2018/2019 law year of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court via simulcast from St Kitts on Tuesday.
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