Monday , January 17 2022

The NI review of rape trials offers a public ban


A review of how the Northern Ireland criminal justice system deals with serious cases of sexual assault has recommended to exclude the public from court proceedings.

Retired Court of Appeal judge, Sir John Gillen, is leading an independent review following the release of two international Irish rugby rape charges in Belfast earlier this year.

Its preliminary report today has been published with more than 220 draft recommendations, including restricting access to serious sexual offenses trials to close members of the family of the victim and alleged defendant and the media mainstream only.

He said: "Confidence building measures for complainants who fear the public enthusiasm, especially in high profile trials ahead of full public galleries, is now essential.

"If we are to challenge the gross notification, the high leakage rates and an unacceptable trial process, I believe that the arguments for restricted access measures include convincing pressures."

The public is already banned in the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Australia while people who are looking Scottish are excluded when the complainant gives evidence.

Other key draft recommendations of the recently retired Court of Appeal judge included the creation of new laws relating to the inappropriate use of social media, where the alleged victim name and images may even be distributed and in a small jurisdiction like Northern Ireland that could anonymously damage someone anonymously.

The report encouraged strong judicial powers to control access to websites during trials and to make new offenses for jurors who offend judicial guidance.

Submission of serious sexual offenses is "unacceptable from low", about one in six tells the police for their surplus.

The preliminary report could pre-record an early cross examination in a court-court setting to make the process easier for alleged victims and encourage people to come forward.

The physical pattern of these courts could be changed to ensure that it has not suffered a victim and accused.

A judge would consider if specific questions could be asked for a charge in advance.

Public money would allow legal representation for the victim in cases where he or she was asked for a sexual history or faced an intrusive impression on personal life.

The judge says that measures should be introduced at the beginning of the trial to tackle rape myths that could influence a jury, such as the type of clothing that a victim is wearing, or Many people feel unnecessary, or were they having trouble or not during an alleged assault – which can become a matter during court proceedings.

The judge's draft report also called for better public education through the school system to tackle myths involving sexual offenses.

Most of the proposed recommendations do not require legislation, but there would be a minority, including those that are social media.

The devolved administration in Stormont has not sat for months following a row between former Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin partners.

The judge said that action should be taken to address excessive delays in the justice system, which can make the process more burdensome for victims.

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