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Child Articulates Events Once Reassured, Says CJ

Child Articulates Events Once Reassured, Says CJ
Chief Justice Anthony Gates (left) and Director Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj during Rights of the Child and the Criminal Justice system workshop in Suva yesterday. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
April 05
11:23 2017

Chief Justice Anthony Gates reminded judges and magistrates that they must be vigilant when presiding over their courtrooms especially when dealing with a child.

He made this statement while speaking at the Rights of the Child and the Criminal Justice System workshop at the Holiday Inn Suva on Monday night.

Chief Justice Gates said the programme concerned child rights, understanding of children in court and that they needed protection and support.

“There is always something to learn and it’s fine having these experts coming to us about some of the matters that we must understand as judges and magistrates in order to allow a child to give of their best in giving evidence,” he said.

Chief Justice Gates said some children stood at the witness box, opened their mouths but failed to say anything which was an experience he encountered as a barrister.

He then realised the importance of reassuring the witness and finding a way for the witness to articulate what happened.

Chief Justice Gates said in another case where a local judge had a problem to getting a child to give evidence so he moved part of the court to the judge’s common room.

He said the child was able to play under one of the tables while the judge had a cup of tea in what seemed to be an informal chat with the child witness.

Chief Justice Gates said as a result of the informality, it led the child articulating the whole story that the child wished to tell somebody about.

He said there were techniques but it needed to be taken with caution.

“We must be careful not to over elevate the child witness, we must remember other rights in the court process including the accused but it is important that every witness that includes the accused is given the chance to articulate what that witness wishes to come out at the court,” Chief Justice Gates said.

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