SEXUAL offences cases will now receive special attention, with the commissioning of the third Sexual Offences Court at Essequibo’s High Court, located at Suddie, Region Two.
The G$17.4 million modern courtrooms are equipped with audio-visual devices which will better assist witnesses during testimony. The project was funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the British High Commission to Guyana.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards, said that the Supreme Court of Judicature of Guyana, is happy to partner with the British High Commission and UNICEF in making the project a success. Justice Cummings –Edwards, while addressing a large gathering of Lawyers, Judges, regional officials, policemen and women of G Division and school children, said that the Sexual Offences Court in Region Two is the third of its kind established in Guyana. The Chancellor of the Judiciary said that all the counties of Guyana, now have a Sexual Offence Court and urged those who are sexually assaulted to break their silence, and speak out.
Justice Cummings-Edwards said it was her desire to see sexual offences cases given priority in the judicial system in Guyana. “I hope that more victims will come forward, the victim’s rights will be respected and their privacy will be protected, victims no longer will be re-traumatized by giving evidence in court,” Justice Cummings-Edward said.
Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, in her address, said the new facility is expected to provide protection for victims of sexual offences. Minister Ally said the establishment of the Third Sexual Offences Court, is in keeping with the Government of Guyana’s promise to provide justice for the poor and marginalized citizen. The minister added that the specialized court system will restore faith to victims and renew their confidence in society.
Deputy British High Commissioner to Guyana, Ray Davidson, remarked that the British High Commission was happy to partner with the Guyana Supreme Court of Judicature to help in the furnishing of the specialized court. He urged parents to pay attention to their children and their behaviours and to identify early signs of abuse. He said the new facility will provide protection for victims of sexual offences and will restore the sense of safety and confidence for survivors.
UNICEF Resident Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Ms. Sylvia Fouet said the facility will make the courtroom more comfortable for victims. She said that according to statistics received from the Director of Public Prosecution, Essequibo has 38 sexual offences matters, with only 20 solved. Eighteen cases will be dealt with in the October session. Ms Fouet said the space provided, will help the abused victims to heal in the process. She therefore called on major stakeholders to continue to work to provide a safe environment for children.
Attorney at Law from the Essequibo Bar, Lachmi Dindyal, lauded the efforts of major stakeholders for the establishment of the court. Dindyal who is a local lawyer, said that he hopes that the court will remain functional. He said that the establishment of the court will provide a friendlier environment for those who are abused.
The formal opening was chaired by Madame Justice Roxane George, CCH, SC, Chief Justice (ag). The function was graced by Regional Executive Officer (REO), Denis Jaikarran and