The Sexual Offences Model Court is a set of specialised court procedures for the treatment of sexual offence cases. The Model Court is being established at the Antigua and Barbuda High Court. There will be a dedicated courtroom and presiding judge assigned to the hearing of sexual offences using these specialised procedures.
Why a Sexual Offences Model Court?
The Sexual Offences Model Court is intended to help remedy the deficiencies in the courts’ current handling of sexual offence cases. These shortcomings were identified in a 2016 Baseline Study commissioned by the JURIST Project and undertaken by UN Women. The study identified the following deficiencies:
• Inordinate delays in completion of cases;
• Lack of data collection to form the basis of monitoring and accountability for the courts’ performance and quality in responding to sexual offence cases;
• Insufficient coordination between the courts and other agencies that provide services to sexual assault complainants; and
• Sexual assault complainants refused to pursue cases due to fear of re-victimization and re-traumatization by the very process of seeking justice. The deficiencies in the courts’ handling of sexual assault cases contribute to high attrition rates in the justice chain for sexual offences as well as to sexual offences having very low conviction rates in comparison to all other crimes.