Courts to accept assault victim’s unsupported evidence


05-September-2011

This follows a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal on Friday which removed the requirement which has been in place since 1962.

When maintaining the conviction and 7½-year sentence of Raymond Lucas who sexually assaulted a girl who was not yet 15, Court of Appeal judges Anthony Fernando, Satyabhoosun Domah and Mathilda Twomey said there is no need for a judge to caution himself or a jury when hearing uncorroborated evidence in sexual assault cases, which is not the case in others.

“This is a landmark decision which will make more people who are assaulted to come forward,” said attorney general Rony Govinden.

“Previously when a complainant claimed to have been assaulted, the law required her to look for additional and independent evidence, or the offender to admit the assault.

“The judge needed to caution himself by saying ‘even in the absence of corroborative evidence I believe the complainant because she is a credible witness’.

“The Court of Appeal has said this is an old law and now if the judge believes the witness, there is no need for corroborative evidence or even the need for the judge to warn himself.”

Mr Govinden and the judges said in most other countries the law has been changed after being found discriminative.

“Is it because she is a woman that she should not have been believed?” he asked.
He said the principle was denying such persons the dignity and protection they deserved.

More people will be convicted now, he said, and more victims like those who would have said sexual assault is difficult to prove will now come forward.


 

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