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 updated and renamed its Child Protection Division to the Sexual Crimes Division (SCD) in August 2019. The Guidelines on Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse Cases & Other Crimes Against Children 2019 (“The Guidelines”) set out the operations of the SCD, 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 Director of Public Prosecutions on 6 August 2019 and are 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.