Govt Endorses Caribbean Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases

Photo: Douglas Mcintosh Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • The Government has endorsed the ‘Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean Region,’ developed by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which provide internationally-accepted best practices for the management of such cases across the region.
  • It offers a rights-based approach to the treatment of complainants and vulnerable witnesses, including children involved in sexual assault cases.
  • Ms. Grange said the victims often face a life of shame and stigma “while several cases go languishing in the legal system for years.”

The Government has endorsed the ‘Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean Region,’ developed by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which provide internationally-accepted best practices for the management of such cases across the region.

The document was crafted through support from the Canadian Government-funded Can$90 million Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project.

It offers a rights-based approach to the treatment of complainants and vulnerable witnesses, including children involved in sexual assault cases.

The CCJ, in tandem with the Jamaican Judiciary, launched the document locally on Friday (November 24) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who spoke at the ceremony, said the undertaking was a “very important and timely initiative.”

She noted that Jamaica is “fully seized” of the need for a “coordinated and sustained” approach in addressing the “serious, prevalent and deeply entrenched” problem of sexual offences, which affects all genders.

Ms. Grange said the victims often face a life of shame and stigma “while several cases go languishing in the legal system for years.”

“This Administration takes a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of violence and is committed to implementing measures to combat sexual offences in Jamaica. The model guidelines, therefore, represent the shared understandings and commitment of the Government of Jamaica around the imperative of eliminating violence,” she added.

Ms. Grange commended the various judicial and other stakeholders spearheading the initiative, and encouraged all partners in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean to facilitate adoption of the guidelines.

For her part, Chief Justice, Zaila McCalla, said the creation and implementation of these model guidelines “will go a far way towards the improvement and management of sexual offence cases and the treatment of witnesses, victims and survivors of sexual offences throughout the region.

“They will assist in removing anomalies and facilitate the achievement of consistency, predictability and transparency in how sexual offence cases are handled,” she noted.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon-Harrison, will serve as an ambassador for the guidelines, and she pledged to bring all the “passion and the excitement that I feel” to her role.

Other speakers included: Canada’s newly-appointed High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Laurie Peters; JURIST Project Director, Dr. Penny Reedie; CCJ Judge and Chair of the Sexual Offences Advisory Committee, Hon. Maureen Rajnauth-Lee; and Executive Director for the non-governmental organization, Eve for Life, Claudia Fletcher.

The JURIST Project is a Government of Canada-funded initiative being administered under Global Affairs Canada that aims to enhance the operations of judiciaries across the Caribbean.

The multi-year project is being implemented by the CCJ on behalf of the Conference of the Heads of Judiciary of CARICOM.

Funding in the sum of some $4 million is also being provided for the initiative by the CCJ and other regional partners.

Global Affairs Canada is the department which manages that country’s diplomatic and consular relations and leads its international development and humanitarian assistance programmes.

JIS Social