NATION

Thanks To Judiciary, Rape Victims Get Justice Quicker

Analysis: Almost daily, it seems, we have a rapist being sent to jail by the judiciary. Judges are making it clear such attacks on women and girls will not be
09 Oct 2016 13:19
Thanks To Judiciary, Rape Victims Get Justice Quicker
Chief Justice Anthony Gates.

Analysis: Almost daily, it seems, we have a rapist being sent to jail by the judiciary. Judges are making it clear such attacks on women and girls will not be tolerated.

Our judiciary under the stewardship of Chief Justice Anthony Gates needs to be commended for ensuring rape and sexual offence trials are now being expedited. They are making sure the message is clear.

A noted increase in penalties also needs to be commended.

The increase in the number of women and girls coming out and reporting such cases is an indication of their faith in our judiciary.

And, this faith is not misplaced. The judiciary has taken a hard line on sexual offences especially those against children.

The trials under the keen watch of trial judges are painless for victims. Now, victims – especially children – also have the option of giving evidence from behind a screen.

This gives young victims confidence to give their evidence without having a room full of people staring at them.

Also, gone are the days when such cases were dragged on for years. In recent days the convictions of Iowane Vakadranu, the pastor of shame, and others have sent out a strong warning to the perpetrators.

Currently two full time criminal court judges sit in Lautoka. There are provisions being made to have another criminal court judge at the Lautoka High Court. With three judges, cases will be held even faster. The backlogs are becoming a thing of the past.

While there are plans to have another criminal Court judge at the High Court in Suva, the issue of space for another courtroom is currently being dealt with.

Another area that has concerned Fijians for some time now has been having only one magistrate to hear the Employment Relations Tribunal (ERT) cases for the entire nation. By law, this magistrate comes under the umbrella of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment.

But, an amendment to law is being considered which will bring the Tribunal under the stewardship of the Chief Justice. This may see other magistrates also hearing ERT cases. Currently, there are discussions for at least two more magistrates to be roped into hearing tribunal matters.

Some tribunal matters have been pending since 2009. The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is understood to be looking seriously into this issue.

Our Judiciary has come a long way under the guidance of Chief Justice Gates. He stood by the Fijian Judiciary in the face of those obscene travel bans from nations we had considered friends.

He went out and got magistrates and judges to work in Fiji when neighbours Australia and New Zealand were slapping one and all with travel bans.

And, our Judiciary has stood the test of time and continued to hold its head high and be above petty politics.

Justice delayed is justice denied is becoming a thing of the past.

Especially for those women and girls who are the victims of sexual attacks and violation.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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