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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Report on the joint committee on justice entitlement

Out of the 14 recommendations on this report, I highlighted 4 in particular; The rate of prosecution and conviction of these crimes is much lower than than that of other serious offences . This recommendations from this report look to provide solutions to tackling this. One of the many reasons for underreporting is the victims fear of injustice through the court systems which are intrinsically adversarial - examination and cross examinations which often lead to further trauma can be become a deterrent to reporting the crime.

While the current law is comprehensive, it is spread amongst several statutes and consideration should be given to co-define all provisions in to a single statute. This will allow the opportunity for some of the recommendations of the committee to 1. the experience of the cross examination 2. delays in trails and proceedings and 3.trial dates being postponed at the last minute. This can cause significant distress to victims. The cross examination process can be changed but how can delays and postponments be avoided? The appointment of additional judges may be necessary to help counter the inevitable delays in trial dates due to covid restrictions. Preliminary trial hearings were also suggested. Cross examinations often cause re-traumatisation for victims but how else can they work without criticising or reviewing evidence? The report recommends specialised training for barristers on how to interact with vulnerable victims which could be of benefit but it would be less desirable as it would inhibit the ability of the barrister to defend the client appropriately. Court refurbishment to add witness suites could be good and be very suitable for children. We should look at what we can do now i.e. staggering the court entry times to avoid both parties encountering each other before the trial. We also need to understand and educate people about the need for consent to engage in sexual activity. We also need to address the accessibility to online pornography and whether it has the power to encourage, normalise or even trigger acts of rape and sexual violence.

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