The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has been highly commended for the efforts made to establish a Sexual Offences Model Court, the first of its kind in the region.
The acclamation came from the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Dame Janice Pereira, during a ceremony on Monday to mark the launch of the court at the High Court of Justice. The model court is aimed at fast-tracking the delivery of justice and offering support for victims and witnesses.
Dame Janice told those who gathered on Monday that the specialisation of the court will help to improve overall efficiency in the judicial system.
She said the court, set up by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) project in collaboration with the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the ECSC, will have the ability to operate with enhanced video and audio links for the conduct of trials in an atmosphere which promotes fairness.
The Chief Justice also explained that Antigua and Barbuda was chosen by the level of interest, support and commitment shown by the government and other stakeholders, and the advantage of readily available space.
“It was also the advanced stages of work that was already undertaken for the establishment of a Family Division at the High Court, as well as the currently operating family court within close proximity, the work and collaboration of the Department of Gender Affairs, the Probation Department and other organizations engaged in supporting survivors of sexual offences, as well as judges with the capacity and sensitivity to treat with sexual offences in a way which ensures that cases of that nature are dealt with expeditiously,” Dame Pereira said.
She also spoke of changes to the legislative framework in Antigua and Barbuda, and the commitment by the government to address gaps within that framework, to strengthen it in ways that will achieve the objectives of the model court in delivering an improved quality of justice.