THE Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is positioning itself to better handle sexual offences as the number of such cases are said to be on the increase.
The Court, toward this end, has embarked on implementing a Model Sexual Offences Court to improve its ability to provide more gender responsive services and to be more focused and understanding of the sensitivity of cases involving victims of sexual offences.
“It has been observed over the years that the number of sexual offences brought before the court has been on the increase. This of course does not mean that the commission of sexual offences has increased. It may be that more sexual Challenges, offences are being reported and being prosecuted as gender sensitivity awareness grows across all levels of our societies. It is important therefore that the Court 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,” said the Court’s Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira.
Pereira, in a recent speech to observe the opening of the New Law Year said that after conducting a review, it was considered that the State of Antigua and Barbuda, at this time, was best suited for the establishment of a Sexual Offences Model Court.
She said that much work had been done for the implementation of such a court before the end of this year.
This project is being spearheaded by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, a five-year regional Caribbean judicial reform initiative funded under an arrangement with the Government of Canada and of which the Caribbean Court of Justice is the Regional Executing Agency.
It is hoped that the successes from this pilot in Antigua and Barbuda will lead to the implementation of similar courts in other Member States and Territories.