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NWCI welcomes commitment to review of prosecution process

Published: Monday, April 02, 2018

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan’s commitment to review the prosecution process in sexual violence cases as an important step on the road to a prosecution process which supports victims of violence against women and which holds perpetrators to account, while respecting the rights of the accused.

Dr Cliona Loughnane, NWCI’s Women’s Health Coordinator said,

“In recent days, we have heard many women coming forward to share their experiences of the criminal justice system after they have reported a rape. It is clear from many of these testimonies that the prosecution system does not currently support victims as well as it should, nor does it adequately hold perpetrators to account. These are issues that NWCI and our members have been raising for many years now, and NWCI welcomes Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan’s commitment to a review of the prosecution process for sexual violence cases. In particular, NWCI welcomes the review of the legal protection offered to complainants in sexual assault cases, the assessment as to how cases could be dealt with quicker and the commitment to examine whether additional training is required for all those involved in the criminal justice system.”

Dr Cliona Loughnane continued,

“We must ensure that our legal system is delivering for women affected by men’s violence. For this to happen, we must put women’s experiences and needs at the centre of the legal process and support women all the way through. We must ensure that all forms of violence against women are being criminalised and that we punish perpetrators appropriately. Crucial legislation, such as the Domestic Violence Bill, will be enacted in the coming weeks. NWCI calls on the Minister of Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to complement legislation with a range of key actions that will ensure a speedy ratification of the Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women this year.”

“NWCI also welcomes the commitment committed to SAVI 2, updating the national survey on sexual violence, which was last published in 2002. We cannot begin to address men’s violence against women until we know the scale of the problem, and cannot continue to write policy without the necessary data.”

Dr Cliona Loughnane concluded,

“The recent case in Belfast has highlighted the urgent need to ensure all parts of the criminal justice system, from the Courts, to the Judges, to the Gardai, are supporting women who report rape. We have had repeated criticism from international human rights bodies of our high attrition rates, and NWCI looks forward to meeting with the Minister for Justice to examine how our prosecution process can properly support victims of violence against women and hold perpetrators to account, while respecting the rights of the accused. We also look forward to discussing the need for a gold standard of data collection when it comes to men’s violence against women.”


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