Sexual Crimes Division (SCD)
The Sexual Crimes Division (SCD) is a specialist unit within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions responsible for prosecuting:
- sexual and gender based violence (SGBV)
- child sexual abuse (CSA)
- other crimes where children are victims
The SCD ensures that sexual offences and crimes against children are robustly prosecuted on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The SCD is also responsible for:
- sharing knowledge within the unit and ensuring consistency in prosecutorial strategy and decisions in all SGBV and CSA cases prosecuted by the office nationwide in every regard;
- developing prosecution guidelines and toolkits for effective prosecution of cases and proper support to victims during the court process;
- ensuring prosecutors are familiar with and are provided training in the use of the ODPP Guidelines on Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse Cases and Other Crimes Against Children (“The Guidelines”) issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions on 6th August 2019;
- developing training modules and conducting training for prosecutors on all aspects of prosecuting sexual offences cases and crimes against children;
- assisting in compiling statistics and data on the nature and extent of SGBV, CSA and other crimes against children;
- compiling accurate statistics of the actions undertaken and outcome of trials and appeals;
- undertaking research and providing updates on developments in applicable substantive and procedural laws relevant to prosecuting sexual offences and crimes against children.
In discharging its responsibilities, the SCD works closely with the ODPP’s Victim & Witness Assistance Unit (ODPP-VWU) to ensure that support and assistance is provided to victims of sexual violence and child victims in cases prosecuted by the office.
The SCD is the point of contact between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Fiji Police on all matters concerning sexual offences and cases involving child victims through the Police Liaison Officer assigned to the SCD.
The ODPP’s Prosecution Code, 2003 (“The Code“) guides State Prosecutors in their conduct with victims of crime.
The Code obliges prosecutors to be sensitive to the interests and needs of victims of crime.
The Code states that the prosecutor must endeavour to safeguard the interest and the dignity of the victim, providing comfort when necessary.
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.
There are also witness protection applications that we make in Court such as name suppression, closed court and screen applications.
One of the core objectives of the Division is to create a child-friendly environment within the SCD so that it could ensure that child victims are comfortable with prosecutors and this also helps prosecutors in preparing the child for giving evidence during their trial in court.
The Division is headed by Principal Legal Officer, Mr Meli Vosawale with senior legal officer, Ms Kimberely Semisi, and legal officers Ms Swastika Sharma, Ms Lavenia Bogitini and Ms Sadaf Shameem. The Division is assisted by a team of specialist prosecutors nationwide who are trained and experienced in prosecuting cases of SGBV, CSA and other crimes against children.
Section 41(1) of the Constitution:
Every child has the right:
(1)(d) To be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, any form of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labour;
41(2) The best interests of a child are the primary consideration in every matter concerning the child.