On Friday [July 15]Minister of Justice has put into effect Part 5 of Child Protection [Miscellaneous Amendments] 2019 law.
“For Bermuda to prosper in the future, protecting and promoting the well-being of children is a top priority for everyone,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Kathy Lynn Simmons. She said, “There should be no hiding place for the sneaky perpetrators of sexual assault on children, and there should be procedural hurdles in court that are too high to prohibit perpetrators from being tried. It will not be. “
Attorney General Simmons continues:
“The new provisions that come into force include plans to apply” special measures “to child witnesses in criminal trials related to sexual crimes. Eliminating the hurdle of outdated evidence of demanding support for the testimony of a child witness. And a new “sexual assault counseling privilege” system ensures that child witnesses do not need to be cross-examined in their communication trials as they are supported by counselors or therapists.
“These procedural and evidence requirements allow courts and practitioners to apply legal standards based on best practice studies to obtain quality evidence from children in criminal trials. The department’s provisions model equivalent laws in jurisdictions such as England and Wales, Australia, Canada, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
“Law, [except Part 5] Initially effective November 1, 2019, the jurisdiction will fully meet the requirements of the Council of Europe Treaty, which is the title under the Council of Europe Treaty 2007 on the protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. I am doing it. Enforcing Part 5 of the Act completes its exercise by ensuring the proper protection of child witnesses in sexual crime cases.
“We can all understand the practical challenges and sensitivities of obtaining evidence in public court from a child witness in a sexual assault case. Judges can understand the practical challenges and sensitivities of a child witness through their trial experience. We must balance procedural fairness against the accused against the need to prevent them from being hurt again. New special measures for child witnesses in sexual offenses are procedural and evidence issues. Established a statutory framework for judicial decisions regarding the scope of.
“A summary of what operates under the Special Measures clause includes:
- Criteria when a child can give evidence of oath or non-oath.
- The removal of the requirement to support the evidence of the child’s testimony retains the judicial discretion to seek supporting evidence.
- General principles to follow when dealing with child witnesses;
- Use of video-recorded records of child witnesses, along with instructions from the court on how to obtain such evidence.
- Provisions for the court to consider the child’s wishes regarding whether to submit pre-recorded evidence.
- Criteria for providing raw evidence by audiovisual links or protection screening of child witnesses.
- Provisions that give courts the authority to exclude the general public from hearings.
- The ability to allow a child witness to have a supporter nearby when submitting evidence.
- Instructions to the jury for which special measures have been taken.
- The court’s explicit authority is to make orders, instructions, and judgments regarding child witnesses.When
- Strict protection for keeping the child’s recorded evidence complete and with violations of unauthorized possession or processing of the record.
“Enforcement of Part 5 of the Act was premised on ensuring that courts and others had the necessary technical and physical environmental resources to implement a series of special measures. Special audiovisual equipment will be installed in Supreme Court No. 4, Security Judge Court No. 1, and both commercial courts. The equipment is already on the island and professional engineers will arrive at the end of July. Planned. According to the plan, the installation process should start in the first week of August 2022.
“In June, the Supreme Court’s Family Division will implement special measures for child testimony for judicial officers, professionals, and legal practitioners as part of the 2022 Marriage, Child and Family Law and Practical Seminar. Facilitated training on the key principles behind the approach for. The judiciary and security judges were present, as well as family court panel members, deputy security judges, senior members of the bar, and the director of the prosecutor’s office.
“The court and prosecutor’s office have shown that they are ready to implement Part 5 of the law. The need for special measures will be used when it is likely that they will go to trial in the coming months. It is expected that these special measures will bring our judicial system completely up to date in the methodology for supporting and protecting child witnesses in the event of sexual crimes.
“The Witness Care Unit of the Prosecutor’s Office provides care and support services for child witnesses and their families in preparation for the trial. Witness Care Officers and Prosecutors have expertise in engaging with child witnesses, Public commendations for tact and compassion. With special measures in place, the family and support system will be greater in response to the decision to bring the child forward to submit evidence to the witness. You can now get a guarantee and peace of mind.
“All children deserve protection from abuse, harm and negligence. Their needs and interests are the highest priority of this government. We will strengthen our child protection system and affect our children. We are determined to continue to review all laws and do everything we can to strengthen our criminal control. In collaboration with the Child Protection Commission, we are the most valuable resource. We are constantly striving to bring security and an environment that optimizes the development of beautiful and most suitable children. “
Finally, the Attorney General reminded the public that in Bermuda, “all cases of known or suspected child neglect or abuse require mandatory reporting. If a person cannot identify or report signs of abuse or neglect, the consequences can be widespread and can have a lasting negative impact on the consequences of the child, his family, and his life. “
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