The ODPP aims to provide a child friendly environment to child witnesses and ensure that a child witness is protected within the framework of its policies and the law when they are required to give evidence in court.
The ODPP established its Child Protection Unit, now the Child Protection Division (CPD), in August 2009. The Child Protection Guidelines of 2009, which were updated in 2013 (“The Guidelines“) set out the operations of the CPD, for instance, the steps in building rapport with the child victim, the decision on whether to oppose bail for the accused and considerations relating to pre-trial applications such as witness protection applications.
The Guidelines were signed by the then Acting Director of Public Prosecutions on 21 August 2009 and is binding on all officers within the ODPP.
The Guidelines require the Prosecutor to make an application to the court for the child’s evidence to be taken in a closed court environment. However, the ultimate decision for this rests with the Court. The Guidelines also require the Prosecutor to ensure that the child is comfortably situated whilst awaiting to give evidence.
The child can be accompanied to and inside the Court by parents, an adult relative or friend who the child is comfortable with. The Prosecutor will discuss with the child, and the child’s guardians prior to Court about the best arrangements to make in this respect.