The Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project in partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda High Court held consultations on May 14, 2018 with the Antigua and Barbuda Bar Association (ABBA) on the Sexual Offences Model Court.
Twenty members from ABBA, including the President, Mr. Lenworth Johnson and the Vice-President, Ms. Sherrie-Ann Bradshaw, attended the consultations. The objectives of the consultations were to:
(a) provide the Bar with an overview of the Model Court (who, what, why and when);
(b) outline the legal justifications for use of special measures in sexual assault cases and the benefits of a formalised case management process in adjudicating sexual offences; and
(c) provide the Bar with an opportunity to provide comments/feedback on the establishment of the Model Court.
Two judges from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and a High Court Judge from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) made presentations at the consultations. The Honourable Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders, CCJ Judge, presented on the benefits of formalised case management to decreasing delay in the adjudication of not only sexual offences but all criminal cases.
He also highlighted the connection between timely adjudication of cases and increased public trust and confidence in the justice system. Chair of the Sexual Offences Advisory Committee and CCJ Judge, the Honourable Mme. Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, encouraged members of the Bar to familiarise themselves with the contents of the Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean and in particular, the section dealing with special measures for complainants and vulnerable witnesses. She stressed that special measures help vulnerable complainants provide the best quality evidence to the court.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Iain Morley, ECSC High Court Judge reiterated the ECSC’s commitment to utilising tighter case management practices and special measures for complainants in sexual offence cases.
The Bar Association President, along with other members of the Bar, expressed strong support for the Model Court. However, they emphasised the need for government to put in place measures to protect juvenile offenders accused of a sexual offence and provide better training for police officers.