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NWCI welcomes review of prosecution process for sexual assault trials

Published: Thursday, August 09, 2018

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan’s review of all aspects of sexual assault trials, and the appointment of Tom O’Malley to conduct the examination. This review of the prosecution process in sexual violence cases is 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.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“For many years, women and groups who work in the area of sexual violence have highlighted how the prosecution system does not currently support victims of rape and sexual violence as well as it should, nor does it adequately hold perpetrators to account. 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, and the commitment to examine whether additional training is required for all those involved in the criminal justice system. One of our key concerns is the time it takes for cases to get to Court, and accordingly, this review process needs to include an assessment as to how cases could be dealt with quicker. The system for trial advocates is one that must be given careful consideration, to ensure that there is proper support, assistance and expertise available to complaints, prior to and during the course of the trial.”

Orla O’Connor 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, was enacted before the summer recess. 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 by the end of this year.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“Recent figures showing a higher rate of sexual assaults but a fall in prosecutions 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. We must ensure our prosecution process can properly support victims of violence against women and hold perpetrators to account, while respecting the rights of the accused.”

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619 087.