From minors to sexual crime victims: Ensuring justice for vulnerable witnesses

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 ― For victims of sexual crimes and domestic violence, getting the alleged perpetrators to court is only half the battle. But for many, that is sadly where their journey for justice stops.

WCC president Mariam Lim speaks at the launch of the proceedings of the National Consultation on the Rights of Vulnerable Witnesses in Kuala Lumpur July 26, 2017. — Pictures by Choo Choy May

According to Penang-based advocacy group Women’s Centre for Change (WCC), one of its clients had her husband charged with causing hurt after a domestic violence case. However after her case was postponed 11 times over the course of two years, she just gave up.

Another client admitted to being asked questions that “do not make sense” in court. “I was asked about the crime scene: How many kilometres away? How many centimetres?” she was recorded saying in a video on vulnerable victims, compiled by WCC.

With nearly three decades of experience working with women and children who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, WCC revealed that only around a third of victims would ever see the inside of a courtroom, even with police reports lodged.

For the cases that went into court, almost half would result in a discharge not amounting to an acquittal ― many due to the victims themselves dropping out. In the end, fewer than one in 10 would see their perpetrators convicted, WCC said.

“We were shocked at these findings. Not only were the chances of getting a case into court extremely difficult, but to have victims drop out at the pre-trial or the trial stage seemed an appalling travesty in the justice process.

“It was simply unacceptable,” WCC president Mariam Lim said while launching the proceedings of the National Consultation on the Rights of Vulnerable Witnesses here  yesterday. Read more